The Salvation Army opened an emergency shelter for those in need due to near-freezing temperatures. It is the only one available in the Chattanooga area,  tonight.

They opened their doors at 6 o'clock on Thursday night. This is two and a half weeks earlier than last year, so they needed all hands on deck to pull this off.

The folks at the Salvation Army had a busy day on Thursday. The fall festival at their location in East Lake was going on, Angel Tree registration is coming to a close, and they opened the Re-create Café, normally their daytime shelter, for overnight stays.

Major Mark Smith, Area Commander with the Salvation Army said, "You're never too busy to help people. We have to do what we have to do."

When they saw the forecast, they didn't hesitate when making the decision to be available to those in need.

"Dip down close to 32 tonight and that coupled with the wind and the rain does not make it safe to be sleeping outside,” Smith told us.

This is the earliest they have ever opened the overnight shelter, so they were not fully stocked with everything they need.

"We're running out of blankets. We need blankets, we need volunteers, we need dollars," Smith said.

They had volunteers come in an hour before they opened to prepare coffee and snacks and set-up the cots. 

Smith said they're still looking for volunteers. 

"Basically you're going to be helping serve, you're going to be helping clean, you're going to be making sure to also build relationships as well and talking with our displaced neighbors,” James Harvin, Lt. at Chattanooga 614 said.

They tell me this could not be done without volunteers and support from the community. The displaced neighbors are very grateful for the hospitality and relieved to be out of this weather.

Harvin says it’s important to "Re-instill hope into our neighbor's hearts, minds and help rebuild them so that they can see there is brighter days ahead."

Seventy-six people stayed overnight from Thursday to Friday.

The shelter will stay open throughout the weekend as well.