Homeless brace for for snowstorm

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 5:39 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Some of Watertown’s homeless population are living in tents with no heat at the Butler Pavilion off the Black River Parkway.

As the snowstorm approaches, a city council member is worried and reminding people to not forget about the homeless.

“They’re in survival mode now. That’s what I see. I came down here for a short time yesterday. I was so cold when I went up the street. I had to stop in a convenience store and warm up,” said Watertown City Council Member Cliff Olney.

Despite locked bathrooms, and no nighttime power, people living at the pavilion say there’s no other place to go and they’ll weather the storm.

“My feeling is let it come. I think everyone here is built for that. There’s not much we couldn’t do if we put our mind to it,” said William Paquin, who lives under the pavilion.

The alternative is elusive. The Salvation Army and Watertown Area Rescue Mission will open warming centers soon, but can’t until they secure the staff.

Mayor Jeff Smith went on radio airwaves Thursday and said the homeless situation is a county issue. He plans to try to put a curfew at the pavilion, closing it at 9 o’clock every night.

“The destructive nature and what’s going on at the Butler Pavilion is absolutely unacceptable. We have to make sure that we clean that up,” said Smith.

Olney disagrees and thinks the city should be helping, not excluding.

“We don’t have an alternative in place for them to go to. I’m not sure who these people are that are making these decisions to do this but what do they think these people should do? Where do they think they should go,” he said.

No solution will happen to help the people before the storm.

“I think that we’ll be fine. I believe that wholeheartedly. Let it snow, let it bring whatever it brings. We’ll just shovel it up, maybe have some walls that keep the cold out,” said Paquin.

Meanwhile, some community members are donating blankets, dropping off food, and helping with health products.