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Storm Brings Record Cold to Northeast : 60-Below Wind Chills Prompt Urgent Efforts to Help the Homeless

December 30, 1987|United Press International

The storm that claimed at least 51 lives across the nation blasted the Northeast with record cold today, sending wind-chill factors to 60 degrees below zero and causing authorities to launch a frantic search for the homeless.

The cold temperatures accompanied by gusty winds produced early-morning lows below zero across Upstate New York and New England. Readings in the single digits were common from the Great Lakes to the northern Atlantic Coast.

Below-zero wind chills also were common along the Middle Atlantic Coast, with gale warnings along the northern half of the Atlantic Coast.

The temperature fell to 17 degrees in New York City, 9 in Boston and the single digits in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Fugitives from the deep freeze streamed into homeless shelters across the region.

'You Could Easily Freeze'

Shelter homes in Hartford and New Haven, Conn., were filled to capacity.

The 85-bed South Park Inn shelter in Hartford, Conn., was forced to refuse requests for shelter from hospital emergency rooms, Assistant Director John Ferrucci said.

"This is a night you could easily freeze to death," he said. "It's pretty serious for the chronically mentally ill and chronic drug users because they live under bridges and in dumpsters."

Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn established 24-hour telephone hot lines for those in need of assistance. He also ordered police vans to roam the streets to find the homeless. Police Commissioner Francis Roache went to all precinct roll calls to urge officers to persuade the homeless to take shelter.

Record Broken in N.Y.

New York's 17 degrees overnight broke a record for the day set 10 years ago.

Cold weather emergencies automatically are declared in New York City when the temperature dips below 32 degrees, empowering police to take the homeless from the streets against their will.

"It's changed from snow to intense cold," said Lyle Alexander, National Weather Service meteorologist.

Strong winds made it feel as if it was from 40 to 60 degrees below zero over sections of southern New England, Alexander said.

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