Homeless population in Seattle, Wash. brace for storm hitting northwest

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 9:33 AM PT – Tuesday, February 12, 2019

On the heels of a recent polar vortex in the Midwest, a new storm system is battering the Pacific Northwest in what forecasters say is “unlike one they’ve seen in years.”

Washington schools along with the state’s legislature were closed on Monday after the storm wreaked havoc over the weekend.

The National Weather Service reported a record 7.2 inches of snow at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, outpacing the annual average.

In response, Washington’s governor declared a state of emergency on Friday, urging residents to “stay off the roads if possible and plan ahead for travel.”

In the meantime, residents in Seattle are feeling the brunt of the weather — specifically the homeless population. One homeless man died from exposure to the winter storm.

“One of my friends did just die up here apparently, one friend told me that…he said he froze to death, assumed he had wet blanket,” said Mike Chilson, a homeless man in Seattle.

Kevin Shepherd walks back to the tent where he lives as snow falls in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Seattle. Shepherd, who works as a musician and pedi-cab driver when the weather is better, said keeping warm is the hardest part of being unsheltered during the winter weather that has dumped snow across the Northwest. Seattle’s metro area has already been hit by three snowstorms in February, making it the snowiest month in Seattle in more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Shelters are reportedly even kicking out the city’s homeless early in the morning despite their efforts to say warm and dry.

The Seattle Police Department, however, is stepping in to help. They are providing emergency services, such as transporting the homeless to and from shelters, and even guiding access to non-profit organizations that deliver winter gear and other basic essentials.

The city’s homeless population has increased recent years, jumping from 8,500 in 2018 to about 10,000 today. Meanwhile, the city is continuing to monitor the current storm and potential forecasts in the future.