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Resources | Places to warm up in Des Moines during bitter cold

There are 32 warming centers within Polk County, 15 of which are in Des Moines.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Des Moines metro will see some frigid temperatures this week, and spending too much time outside could be dangerous. Fortunately, there are several warming centers in the area for community members in need.

Additionally, Central Iowa Shelter and Services (CISS) and Hope Ministries are operating under a winter amnesty status (wind chill at 10 or below). That means that shelters will not turn anyone away for as long as amnesty lasts, making them available 24 hours a day. 

"A [warming] center is just a place to go, in this case to get warm," said DeAnne Sesker, Program Assistant with Polk County Emergency Management. "A shelter would provide to them resources, as far as legal aid, or food, a cot to sleep on. So there's a big difference between sheltering and centers."

Sesker said the warming centers are places where those in need can regroup, warm up and access basic facilities like restrooms and drinking fountains.

She said Polk County does not measure how much use each center gets. However, with beds still available at Central Iowa Shelter & Services, there are currently no plans to start up additional centers.

"If not going to a shelter, like CISS, then if the numbers are high enough, then we would start to operationalize our plans that would open more of a formal shelter," Sesker said.

For anyone in need of transportation, DART offers free rides to warming centers—just let the driver know that's where you're headed.

The Des Moines Public Library is offering the following buildings as warming centers during the day:

  • Central Library (1000 Grand Ave.) – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday
  • East Side Library (2559 Hubbell Ave.) – 1 to 7 p.m., Monday and Tuesday; 1 to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday
  • Forest Ave. Library (1326 Forest Ave.) – 1 to 7 p.m., Monday and Thursday; 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
  • Franklin Ave. Library (5000 Franklin Ave.) – 1 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 1 to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday
  • North Side Library (3516 Fifth Ave.) – 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 1 to 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday
  • South Side Library (1111 Porter Ave.) – 1 to 7 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday; 1 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday

The Polk County Health Department also said homeless shelters have adequate capacity.

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