ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The homeless are doing what they can to get warm these cold nights — even breaking into abandoned homes to start fireplace fires. But what are they burning?
Ripping up floor boards, tearing down woodwork, homeless man Micahel Griessel says when you don’t have proper logs, you have to find some wood to burn from the house itself.
“I was using woodwork, flooring anything I can get my hands on to burn,” Griessel said, holding out his hands to show the rough spots.
Griessel told his story of surviving one of the coldest nights of the year in an old brick house that he said looked like “wealthy people” used to live there.
“I always asked my friend if he ever wondered who used to live here, how the house used to look before it was abandoned,” Griessel said.
Looking for someplace to take a hot shower, Griessel showed up at the New Life Evangelistic Center, where he complained it wasn’t too restful, sleeping by the fireplace, because he had to constantly get up and find more wood in the house.
Another homeless man passing through the crowd of poor picking through bins for free coats complained that it’s hard to get warm outside on single digit nights.
“I got a lot of styrofoam with blankets that I just lay up against a wall,” said Floyd Crawford.
New Life Evangelistic Center founder, the Reverend Larry Rice, says the coldest night he ever spent outdoors got down to 13 degrees. It was a experiement with a cardboard box to understand what it feels like. “You can never get comfortable,” Rice said, “because if you put on too many layers, you sweat, and then the sweat freezes.”
Rice says his ministry has seen a 20 percent increase in demand this winter, with “the new poor” seeking shelter, food and other services.