The city of Newport has four designated daytime warming centers for those without shelter and people who need a place to warm up, the Newport Public Library, The Florence Gray Community Center, The Edward King House and Donovan Manor.

Because of the current cold snap, the city’s Emergency Management Team hustled to create a temporary, overnight warming shelter at the Maritime Center in downtown Newport.

“Anytime we’re looking at severely low temperatures, those being temperatures below 20 degrees, the city snaps into its emergency management mode,” said Xay Khamsyvoravong, Newport’s mayor. 

City officials want to make sure that no people are left outside in the cold because it would be dangerous to their health. 

Khamsyvoravong said the city estimates there is a population of around 100 people who might need shelter. There is a shelter in town that’s at full capacity, so the temporary overnight shelter at the Maritime Center is intended for any people who still need shelter. That could be people sleeping in their cars or on the streets. 

The city chose the Maritime Center in downtown Newport because it’s within walking distance for most. People without cars can take public transit. For those who can’t find a way to the center, people will find a way to them, Khamsyvoravong said.

“We’re also ensuring that we work with our community partners, like Newport Mental Health, to actually have vehicles out on the roads, looking for people who might be at risk of freezing, and who may need a lift over to the warming center,” Khamsyvoravong said.

The police station in Newport does offer its lobby for shelter overnight, but the city is offering another option for people who may not feel comfortable staying overnight there. 

“For many of these individuals, going into a police lobby is something that is really intimidating, that they're not likely to do,” Khamsyvoravong said. “We're just trying to make sure that we can find a way to get these people into a warm location where they're going to feel safe.”

There is no permanent overnight warming center on Aquidneck Island, and only a handful in the state. That’s something that Khamsyvoravong is working to change.

“We have a group of nonprofit providers that have coordinated to apply to the state for funding to help us establish a permanent warming center through the rest of the season,” Khamsyvoravong said.

The Newport mayor said that municipalities on the island do a good job providing assistance during a crisis; however, in the long term, the area needs a permanent warming center. 

And that’s an issue that the Aquidneck Island, as a whole, will need to address, he said.

The emergency overnight warming center at the Maritime Center at 365 Thames Street is open Thursday, Feb, 2, from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next day; Friday, Feb. 3, from 7 p.m. to noon the following day; and Saturday, Feb. 4 from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday.

Additional information can be found here.

Cheryl Hatch can be reached at