Lakewood Township Helps the Homeless and the Cold throughout the Night

January 07, 2014

Lakewood Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, liaison to the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Lakewood Police Chief Robert Lawson and Lakewood police officers spent the night making sure everyone was safe, warm, and sheltered from the frigid cold and biting winds.

Committeeman Lichtenstein said, “Some people in Tent City went to a church. Everybody was offered shelter and the police were there many times throughout the night to offer help.”

The OEM provided blankets, cots, and meals that automatically heat up when the container is opened; and All Saints Episcopal Church, Madison Avenue between Second and Third streets, opened its doors to the homeless so they could get out of the cold.

Chief Lawson said that Kenny Dix, one of Lakewood’s Deputy OEM Coordinators, and the OEM provided two dozen cots for Lexington Rest Home, Lexington Avenue and Fifth Street, when the heating system partially failed. With the cots from the OEM, people could move from the upper floors to the lower level where they had heat. Chief Lawson said, “They were anticipating having the heating system fixed today.”

A big concern to Township officials and the police department was the condition of people living in Tent City. Chief Lawson said, “We sent officers to Tent City hourly to check to see if anybody else wanted shelter to get out of the cold.”

Father Burt Draesel, the pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church opened the Church to accommodate the homeless and Chief Lawson assigned officers in shifts to stay with the people there.

Chief Lawson said, “The weather is brutal and it’s going to be like this for the next couple days. We are going to continue to check the people in Tent City throughout this frigid weather to see if anyone wants shelter. We don’t want anyone freezing to death out there.”

In emergency situations, such as this one, about four Lakewood churches usually open on a rotating basis and volunteer members of the CERT Team (Citizens Emergency Response Team) will often staff them.

Besides Father Draesel of the All Saints Episcopal Church, the other pastors and churches that are generous in opening for emergencies are Pastor Simpson’s Church on Arlington Avenue who sheltered quite a few people during hurricane Sandy; Reverend Salguero’s Church, East Fourth and Ridge Fourth streets; and Pastor Orellana’s church on East Seventh Street.

Anyone in trouble or cold should call the Lakewood Police Department, the first contact for any emergency at 732-363-0200. Through Chief Lawson or one of the OEM deputy coordinators, arrangements will be made to shelter and feed people in need.
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