ESSEX COUNTY AREA, NJ — Essex County’s “Code Blue” procedures are being activated from Monday at 5 p.m. to Thursday, March 16, at 8 a.m. due to extreme cold weather and snow in the forecast.

In addition, Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, Codey Arena, the Environmental Center and Senior Centers within the Essex County Parks System will be closed on Tuesday. Visitation hours at the Essex County Correctional Facility have also been canceled.

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. and Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said providing the homeless residents with a warm place to stay during extreme weather conditions is important for their safety and well-being. DiVincenzo thanked the participating shelters and warming stations (click HERE for list) who are working with the county to open their doors in these times of need.

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“Our homeless residents need a warm place to stay when winter weather gets this bad,” said Fontoura. “The organizations opening their doors are providing a great service and helping us protect the safety of these vulnerable residents.”

Conditions for a Code Blue are defined as when the temperature drops below 15 degrees for a 48-hour period or when the wind chill is below 0 degrees. When those conditions are met, or when the weather forecast predicts these conditions, the County Executive can proclaim a Code Blue and enact the procedure.

When a Code Blue is declared, a network of warming stations operated by the County and its municipalities and shelters operated by the community based organizations will be opened. The warming stations identified include Essex County Codey Arena and a variety of public libraries, senior centers, civic and community centers, school buildings, houses of worship, firehouses and first aid squad buildings.

Warming stations are generally opened during the day and may not provide overnight accommodations. Shelters do provide overnight accommodations. In addition, shelters that regularly require occupants to leave during the day will suspend that practice so people can stay indoors.

A full list of available warming stations and shelters is available on www.NJ211.org and available by dialing 2-1-1.