Freezing weather grips the Valley

CLOVIS, Calif.

If the temperatures drop too low, oranges could suffer. But if growers can effectively regulate the temperature on these farms by running water, burning peach pits for heat, and using wind machines, the oranges will thrive on the cold night air.

Many growers are using a steady stream of water during freezing nights to help keep oranges from frost damage. While many growers work to protect the fruit these mature trees bare, growers like Marc Woods worry about keeping their trees themselves alive.

Woods spent more than $20-thousand on fabric covers. He's hoping the material will be a life saver for the 6,000 citrus trees. Before this plan was set, several small trees died in this season's cold. With freezing temperatures forecast to hit the Valley over the next few nights, Woods is literally banking the covers protect his quarter of a million dollar agriculture investment.

"I can't argue with mother nature," said Woods, "We had the same problem with the hail last year, I lost a bunch of plums. It's the same thing."

At the at Woods family farms, mature citrus trees are an early variety. They have already been picked, but frost has damaged the lower sections of the orchard.

Winter vegetables can withstand the cold, but if we drop below 30 degrees for an extended period over the next few days -- some farmers could suffer major losses.

It's not just growers who will fight off the overnight freeze, the cold temperatures are also having a chilling effect on people and animals.

Warming centers in communities around the Valley are opening up. The Frank H. Ball Community Center is being used as a warming center. It's located at Mayor and Inyo Street in Southwest Fresno and is open to the public at no charge and open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. when temperatures are cold.

In the North Valley, the Merced County Rescue Mission is being used as a warming center.

With temperatures dropping below freezing, the City of Visalia is offering a place to stay. The new community center on 741 North Santa Fe will be open through Sunday. The Visalia Rescue Mission is also providing food and a warm place to sleep when temperatures drop below 30 degrees.

In Sanger, a warming center is ready for people to stay and take shelter. "Plenty of people are homeless, no doubt. But there are a lot of people that have homes that just have poor insulation, that the wind gets through their windows all the way to their heater is broken down or they just can't afford to run the heat. And this offers them an opportunity," said Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell.

Meanwhile, Fresno County's animal shelter has seen an influx of dogs. As workers try to find homes for the animals, they're also trying to keep them and all the other dogs warm. Liberty Animal Control is now asking for blankets and towels to be donated to help keep the dogs warm.

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