SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Code Blue alert is issued in Lackawanna County due to the cold weather.
A Code Blue is declared when the temperature is expected to drop 20 degrees or below.
The purpose is to raise awareness and set up emergency shelters for those experiencing homelessness.
A blue light can be seen shining in the window of Keystone Mission in Scranton.
It’s a warning sign of sorts for those experiencing homelessness, but also a beacon of hope.
“Code Blue might sound like oh, you know we give them a room, a place to stay, they stay overnight. But what we try to do there is transform their lives,” said Justin Behrens, Executive Director & CEO of Keystone Mission.
A Code Blue alert has been declared nearly every day this week due to the forecast of overnight temperatures dropping below 20 degrees.
Behrens and his team at Keystone Mission coordinate with city officials to provide emergency shelter and get the homeless out of the dangerous cold.
“That’s when we start getting staff to come in, making sure we get it manned, making sure we get the supplies that we need, the blankets, the pillows, the cots,” said Behrens.
Behrens runs the Code Blue Program in both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.
He says the need expressed in these communities is greater than ever.
“Of the times that I’ve done this, I have not seen the amount of people that we’ve seen this year. And the interesting piece of it is, we’re seeing a lot of individuals that are new, that we’ve never seen before, and so if this trend continues, we’re gonna have a lot of problems on our hands,” said Behrens.
Behrens is on a mission to help people achieve independence.
“When they come into our doors, we try to find out what their barriers are, what kind of issues they have, and then connect them into resources in the community to help them get off the streets,” said Behrens.
When Code Blue is in effect in the Electric City, Weston Field House will open as a shelter from 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and will be operated by Keystone Mission.