jim judge
READYING FOR WEATHER EXTREMES — Just as planning for hurricanes and tropical storms keep him busy in the summer and fall, Volusia County Emergency Management Director Jim Judge must prepare for winter adversities, if necessary. The upcoming Christmas weekend may be bitterly cold for many people, especially endangering those who do not have homes. Judge is part of a county working group that coordinates preparations for weather emergencies.

Coming soon to a subtropical state near you: a big chill that will make you wonder if you are really in Florida.

As Christmas approaches, so is a wave of super-cold air that may make the holiday extra memorable. Just as the Christmases of 1983 and 1989 were marked by sub-freezing temperatures, so may be the upcoming weekend.

“We’re coming up on really nasty cold weather from Friday night through Monday,” Volusia County Emergency Management Director Jim Judge said. “We will have temperatures in the 20-degree range and wind chills.”

The prospect of frigid conditions have already prompted county officials to begin preparing to shelter those who have no place — except the streets — to call home.

“The county helps facilitate a cold-weather coordination group, which is composed of nonprofit organizations, churches, municipalities, county staff and other partners as appropriate,” wrote Kevin Captain, the county’s Director of Community Information, in response to a query from The Beacon. “Staff from the county’s Community Services Department and Emergency Management Division (EM) help facilitate group efforts through regular and situational planning, coordination and collaboration.”

Captain noted Halifax Urban Ministries is a key part of the cold-weather group. The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, which operates the shelter known as The Bridge, located at 421 S. Palmetto Ave. in DeLand, also takes in homeless people on cold nights.

“Members of our EM team continuously monitor the weather by being in direct daily contact with the National Weather Service, and they notify our county’s social services agencies with anticipated cold weather notifications,” Captain wrote. “As needed, EM logistically provides these agencies with cots, water, meals ready to eat (aka: MREs) and personal protective equipment such as face masks.”

The county’s Votran buses will transport people needing shelter.

Volusia County Animal Services, meanwhile, advises pet owners to make certain they bring their animals indoors during the freezing conditions.

“If this is not possible, steps should be taken to ensure they [animals] remain warm,” Captain continued. “Line dog houses with straw and ensure they are elevated from the ground. Ensure your pet’s shelter is clean and dry. Your pet’s water may also freeze outdoors during extreme weather. Owners should ensure that pets have access to clean, fresh water at all times.”

Farmers such as Lisa Burke in Osteen are also preparing for the Arctic air.

”I moved my cows into the barn, so they’ll be warm and dry,” Burke said. “I will put the horses into the barn. They have heat lamps, and they will have blankets.”


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