The shelter in downtown Panama City was filled beyond capacity. The homeless were sleeping on the pews in the chapel and on the floor itself.
Kentucky native Michael Nodine lost his construction job in the housing market collapse. Times are tough. In fact, over recent weeks, he's been sleeping in his car, until this weekend's freezing temperatures made that impossible. "Unfortunately, the police said that sleeping in the car was dangerous with the cold temperatures,” he said. “So, I came to the shelter. I had a good meal, the folks are friendly. I spent the night and was lucky enough to get a bed."
James Thomas said, "I don't know what would happen if it wasn't for the shelter. We would be out there in the woods, cars, in vacant buildings; I don't know what would happen."
Normally, the Panama Rescue Mission can house 30-to-40 persons.
However, the arctic blast has doubled those numbers. No one is turned away in this weather, and room is made in the chapel, as well as the floor of the shelter.
Staff Member Ralph Morgan said, "After we fill-up the 30 beds, we move to the chapel. We can fit about 25 in there. And if we still need space, we can place more on mats in the dining room."
In many cases, the folks at the shelter are holding down a job.
However, they don't earn enough to find affordable housing along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The Panama City Rescue Mission operates solely on individual and business donations.
If you would like to help, contact them during regular business hours at 850-769-0783.