BOONE, N.C. — Hospitality House of Northwest North Carolina, the emergency winter shelter in Boone, is now open. A dozen people showed up during the first week it was open. One of those people, Alex Ivanov, has been living in his van for 10 years.

Ivanov says he has boxes inside with clothing, toiletries, even a stove. Everything he would need to survive.

Ivanov says recently, the high winds and cold temperatures have made it difficult to stay in the van, as he was not only worried about being told to leave parking lots, but also would have to find a way to stay warm inside. He is thankful the shelter was open so he can stay inside away from the elements.

"You're not in control, the situation is controlling you. You're trying, in fact you're trying to fool yourself with all the small things. For one thing, it's a survival skill. For another reason you're just fooling yourself," Ivanov says.

Hospitality House Executive Director Tina Krause says while it normally takes in everyone that comes by, it is opening the emergency shelter slowly and taking priorities first.

The shelter is currently separating cots and using tape markers to ensure everyone is spread out. The staff members are also asking those staying there to sleep feet to head due to COVID-19.

Krause says they are taking as many precautions as possible to keep people safe during the pandemic.

Due to the influx of people needing help, the shelter is in need of both warm clothing and blankets. It is asking for donations of any kind to be dropped off seven days a week.