HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- A winter blast of extreme cold weather is contributing to unprecedented overcrowding at local homeless shelters. The Holland Rescue Mission says for the first time ever it's putting people on mattresses in rooms that aren't meant for sleeping, because there are no longer any beds available.
It's a busy lunch hour at the Holland Rescue Mission, but it's nothing compared to what happens overnight. A man sleeping on the floor paints a picture of the overcrowding.
"Historically,we've never had this many people at one time," says Todd Krygsheld, director of the men's program at the Holland Rescue Mission. "Wehave 64 beds, so that meant 12 men slept on mattresses last night."
Jay Piper is just glad to be out of the extreme cold and into a warm room, even if he has to share most of it.
"A couple days after I came,more and more guys started coming in," says Piper. "Mostof the guys that would consider staying out are coming in because of the cold."
During the day, there are classes going on in the chapel room, butat nightthereare abouthalf a dozen people sleeping.
"This is the first time I've seen us have to put mattresses in our chapel," says Krygsheld.
The women's shelter's also out of beds and likely won't have mattresses either.
"I got about six calls yesterday and I told people the only thing I might have is a floor for them," says Linda Bazan, leader of the women's shelter for the Holland Rescue Mission.
To make matters worse, the flu is going around.Mothers like Stephanie Moore and Julie Stickney are worried about their young children.
"We're afraid they're going to get sick or hospitalized with the illnesses coming in," says Stickney.
"Whenyou have people that aren't stable outside, of course it's expected for them to get sick and when they come in to get warm, they spread the junk," says Moore.
In a place becoming harder to get peace of mind, the shelter is making a comforting promise.
"We will not turn anyone down," says Krygsheld.
The Holland Rescue Mission is using a phone campaign to collect money for additional mattresses. The men's shelter is also in need of winter gloves and the women's shelter is looking for more towels and blankets.