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South Florida Farmers Protect Their Crops From Big Chill

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The cold air over that descended over South Florida the last two nights has kept farmers in the area busy and residents looking for ways to stay warm.

Many spent all night keeping a close watch on the dropping temperature. Farmers are worried the wintry weather could damage crops.

"I didn't see any frost this morning, but just in case we've got these pumps going," said Sam Accursio of Accursio and Sons Farms in South Miami-Dade.

Crews there set up sprinklers, using ground water to keep the plants warm. Accursio said it almost reached the freezing point.

"Thankfully, it wasn't that cold, but it got pretty close there around 2 a.m.," Accursio said. "A few degrees colder it could have been really bad for us."

Accursio continued, "We'll keep the sprinklers on until temperatures go up.. Then well do it all again Saturday."

With clear skies in place, lows fell to the 40s near the coast and 30s inland Friday. Broward County has issued a cold weather emergency until Sunday. The Salvation Army in Broward County official said the facility has been taking in people since Wednesday night.

James Gentry, who is homeless, said he'll tough it out on the streets.

"I'm bundled up with a lot of blankets and I have a tight knit group of friends at a camp that I stay with," he explained.  He called the current cold snap, 'moderate.'

Some local residents weren't quite prepared for the cooler temperatures.

"We should have had little foot warmers. It was cold!" said Sharon O'Brien of Islamorada.

Some even broke out the fur, but visitors decided to stick with flip-flops.

"I wore them yesterday, I'm in Florida," said tourist Nancy Schafer.

Other tourists took a shot at South Floridians inability to deal with the cold air.

"You're kinda wimpy," said tourist Chris Smith. "But I hope that your citrus crops and all of your great produce is fine."

Outreach agencies are scouring the streets of South Florida to direct the homeless where to go to have a hot meal and warm bed.

"We are hitting the streets to provide shelter during this cold snap," said Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief.

"We open the doors at five o'clock but people start lining up at four, we will serve them hot dinners and a hot breakfast before they leave tomorrow morning. They'll all receive a bed and a warm place to sleep and some blankets for the night," said the Salvation Army's Rebecca Koss.

Homeless advocates with the Homeless Voice newspaper in Broward spent hours visiting the homeless Thursday night offering them blankets, jackets, coffee or a warm place to stay.

"It should be like 43 tomorrow morning, I believe, which is in the danger zone for somebody especially if they've been drinking or passed out without a blanket over them," said Homeless Voice Founder Sean Cononie.

Several Miami-Dade shelters are open for people looking for a warm place to stay.

  • Chapman Partnership in Miami
  • 1550 N Miami Avenue
  • Chapman Partnership in Homestead
  • 28205 SW 124th Court
  • Miami Rescue Mission for Women
  • 2250 NW 1st Avenue
  • The Salvation Army
  • 1907 NW 38th Street
  • Camillus House
  • 1603 NW 7th Avenue

Homeless pets at Miami-Dade Animal Services are being kept warm thanks to donated blankets.

As the temperatures dip into the chilly side, some people are turning to rarely used space heaters to keep them warm.

It's also a good time to check your space heater to make sure it is 'UL' approved.

"When you turn on your heat and smell the dust burning off it's normal," says Broward Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles.

"If you start to see smoke, call your fire department."

"Remember to keep them away from children, it needs to be closely monitored, it needs to be at least three feet away from anything that has the potential to catch fire. That's your drapes, garbage disposal areas, desks, anything that has the potential to catch fire, you want to keep it away from that," said Miami Fire Rescue Spokesman Lt. Ignatius Carroll.

Fire officials are urging everyone to check the batteries on home smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors.

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