By about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, it became clear that something needed to be done to provide people in need with a warm place to stay overnight as temperatures dipped into the single digits.
Just 30 minutes later, Tri-City Consumers’ Action Cooperative (COOP) Program Coordinator Don McCullough was in Fire Chief Mark Klose’s office discussing the options for opening a warming shelter, and by 4:30 p.m., the logistics were coming together smoothly.
By 7 p.m., the warming shelter at the Rochester Community Center — 150 Wakefield St. — was open to members of the public in need. The shelter will be available through at least Tuesday, Jan. 2, as extreme cold is expected to persist through early next week.
The effort was a first-of-its-kind endeavor for the city, which was made possible by a unified collaboration by numerous municipal departments, businesses and organizations that pulled it together with only a few hours notice.
“A lot of groups worked toward a common goal that will benefit Rochester residents and even those beyond our borders,” Chief Klose said. “Nobody should have to brave this type of cold without shelter, and I’m glad that we were able to make this happen so seamlessly.”
The following city departments, private companies and charitable organizations contributed to the effort:
- Rochester Public Works
- Rochester Recreation Department and Arena
- Rochester Community Center
- Rochester Police Department
- Rochester Fire Department
- New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Rochester Welfare Department
- Office of Mayor Caroline McCarley and City Council
- City Manager’s Office
- Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce
- Flatbread Pizza of Portsmouth
- Dunkin Donuts
- Tri-City COOP
- SOS Recovery
- Community Action Partnership of Strafford County
- American Red Cross
- Tri-City Towing
“This effort was extremely well coordinated and efficient despite very short notice,” City Manager Daniel Fitzpatrick said. “I am proud of the way that our staff collaborated with one another and with private supporters to help bring people in from the cold, and I’m grateful for the help of our business and charitable partners that made the shelter as comfortable as possible.”
The shelter housed 20 people overnight Thursday into Friday and will remain open through the New Year.