Homeless people find reprieve from the heat at Salvation Army Harbor House

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 | 10:41 p.m. CDT; updated 8:09 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Alice Ewing talks with Maj. K. Kendall Mathews, director of special services at the Salvation Army's Columbia-Jefferson City Regional Coordinator's Office in Columbia on Tuesday.

COLUMBIA — Anthony Thorn and his wife found shelter as a lethal heat wave continued to hover over the Midwest.

The couple, who have been homeless for three years, recently arrived in Columbia from Atlanta, Ga., and found an oasis at the Salvation Army Harbor House as temperatures soared into dangerous territory. The Harbor House provides housing and food to homeless who clear a police check for safety and agree to a program that includes chores and job searching.


Related Media

Related Articles

"I have no clue what I would do if I was out on the streets trying to find somewhere in the shade to keep cool," Thorn said. "With this heat, I don't know how we'd make it."

Thorn was a medic during Operation Desert Shield and has long-term mental disorders stemming from the conflict.

"I lived in my Jeep for six months," he said. "Eventually, I sold all my personal belongings for gas until theJeep was no good."

After that, Thorn and his wife lived in a tent until they went to Harbor House, he said.

The couple is not alone. The house, which has 61 permanent beds, has seen numbers rise from 55 percent to 80 percent occupancy over the last couple of weeks.

Thorn said he has seen full occupancy at night as "street people" come in to take advantage of "hot cots."

Hot cots are extra beds the shelter puts out when temperatures reach dangerous levels, said K. Kendall Mathews, Salvation Army regional manager.

The Salvation Army is trying to provide relief for people who are most at risk from the elements.

"We're distributing bottled water and offering opportunities for people to come in from the heat into our cooling center," Mathews said. "This heat is a disaster, particularly for the homeless. It's life threatening. They don’t have water, they can dehydrate. They can die and rot out in the heat."

There are still some beds available for people in need, and Mathews urges the community to help through providing water, towels and toiletries. People interested in donations can go to the Salvation Army's website.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.