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Cold snap hard on the homeless

Reynolds 004.jpg
Liam Moriarty/KPLU
Rick Reynolds is Executive Director of Operation Nightwatch, a non-profit social service agency that helps the homeless in downtown Seattle.

The recent icy winds and frigid temperatures have been making life uncomfortable for pretty much everybody. But for folks without a place to call home, the cold snap can make an already-difficult life miserable.

Rick Reynolds heads Operation Nightwatch in downtown Seattle. The group feeds and finds shelter for people with no where else to go. Operation Nightwatch opens for business at 9 p.m., when other services are closing down for the night, so by the time people get to Reynolds’ door, they’re often pretty desperate.

Reynolds says when it gets this cold, it raises the stakes for people trying to get out of the weather.

“We’re the last chance for shelter for many people late at night,” he said, “So there’s just this sense of anxiety and it amps up everybody’s edginess.”

Reynolds has taken a hit from the cold snap, as well. Operation Nightwatch’s annual fundraising luncheon – which accounts for about 12 percent of the group’s budget -- had to be cancelled because of dangerous driving conditions.  He says the 300 box lunches he ordered for the fundraiser will be fed to the homeless.

Liam Moriarty started with KPLU in 1996 as our freelance correspondent in the San Juan Islands. He’s been our full-time Environment Reporter since November, 2006. In between, Liam was News Director at Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon for three years and reported for a variety of radio, print and web news sources in the Northwest. He's covered a wide range of environment issues, from timber, salmon and orcas to oil spills, land use and global warming. Liam is an avid sea kayaker, cyclist and martial artist.