Dallas officials are urging people to stay home and off roads, if possible, as ice and sleet have taken over many city streets Tuesday and hazardous conditions are expected to continue Wednesday.
City work crews continue to put down a mixture of sand and salt on major roads and intersections, but residential streets will likely stay iced over until the weather warms, according to Dallas public works director Ali Hatefi. The downtown library will open Tuesday as a temporary homeless shelter with up to 250 beds, but the rest of the libraries are among a slew of city facilities shut down due to wintry weather.
The Dallas Municipal Court and all recreation centers closed on Tuesday. All libraries were initially scheduled to open to the public at noon, but conditions forced the city to about face.
In addition, garbage and recycling collections have been canceled due to poor road conditions. Dallas sanitation department director Jay Council said it’s not immediately clear if pickups will resume Wednesday or later in the week.
“If you can, avoid traveling. The roads are very treacherous,” said Travis Houston, the city’s assistant emergency management coordinator. “We’re seeing a lot of accidents of those who are out on the roads and so we just encourage everyone, if you’re able to and it’s feasible, please stay home and stay safe.”
Dallas fire crews responded to nearly 300 calls of motor vehicle crashes between 7 a.m. Monday and 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to fire deputy chief James Russ. Crews also responded to three cases of people outside in frigid temperatures seeking help, and two people were driven to homeless shelters, Russ said.
City facilities, such as City Hall, recreation centers and the municipal court, are planned to remain closed Wednesday, officials said. City events and the City Council meeting have also been canceled.
Wintry weather has been hitting North Texas since Monday and is expected to carry on through Thursday morning with periods of freezing rain and sleet causing temperatures to dip and roadways to be slick.
Tuesday marks the third day the city will have its temporary homeless shelter open in South Dallas at 2929 Hickory Street. The site is holding 295 people and has a capacity of 360 beds, according to Christine Crossley, Dallas’ office of homeless solutions director.
Oak Lawn United Methodist Church and Warren United Methodist Church will also remain open as city-sanctioned temporary shelters, but Crossley said both are at capacity. The Oak Lawn church has 80 beds, and there are 50 at the other.
The city has shelter pick-up zones south of Interstate 30, downtown and in the medical district and Forest Lane areas. People are asked to call 311 to arrange getting transportation to one of the sites.
Crossley said city homeless solutions staff are also looking for and picking up people without stable housing in need of shelter. In the event they refuse transport, she said they are being given blankets, hats, socks, and hand and foot warmers.
“This is not the best solution for people, I think we can all agree,” Crossley said. “We’d prefer that they go into shelter. But if they are refusing, the best chance for survival is going to be one of these cold weather packs.”