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Warming stations open for those seeking shelter

As temperatures reach single digits in the Ohio Valley, rest assured knowing that there are several places in the community to take haven and keep warm.

As temperatures reach single digits in the Ohio Valley, rest assured knowing that there are several places in the community to take haven and keep warm.

Nearly 4,800 AEP customers in eastern Ohio lost power on Monday morning because of frozen transmission lines.

An obvious inconvenience became more serious due to low temperatures.

"Right now, in the winter with the temperatures dropping so quickly and so low, and with the wind chill, people are facing some hard times right now,” said Reverend William Webster of Grace Presbyterian Church.

Reverend Webster and his staff have opened up the church in Martins Ferry as a community warming station.

The church is prepared to house members of the community, especially this winter, when temperatures become too cold to bear.

"We have a full kitchen so we can provide meals,” Reverend Webster said. “If people are here for a longer duration, we have a handicap shower. Our entire building is completely handicap-accessible. They can come in with a wheelchair or walker, and we can bring them down to the lower level. They can have dinner or they can stay in the upper level and watch TV on the big screens."

Among Grace Presbyterian Church, other warming stations opened in Belmont County. First Presbyterian Church in St. Clairsville, Colerain Fire Station, and Barton Social Hall are also open to anyone seeking shelter.

Monday's power outage lasted about four hours, and power was restored to most areas before 11 a.m.

In the event of another outage, the warming centers will be open and ready.

"The idea is to bring hope to people who feel hopeless right now,” Reverend Webster said. “With the severe cold, a lot of people are feeling hopeless and isolated. This is a way to bring people together and keep them warm and safe in these very frigid temperatures."

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