JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — It’s a good bit earlier than usual, but the Johnson City Salvation Army has opened its shelter to anyone due to the current cold snap.

The Ashe Street site flew the “white flag” Tuesday as temperatures headed toward overnight lows well below the 35 degrees at which the congregate shelter opens. Captain Benny Carringer said the white flag will continue flying at least through Thursday night.

Despite the quick drop in temperatures, he said 18 people took advantage Tuesday night. The area has cots with a separation for men and women and can sleep about 25 people. There are security cameras and a security guard, and the only requirements for entry are an ID and that the person not be a registered sex offender.

Carringer called the service a very important part of the Salvation Army’s mission.

“We have a lot of our friends who stay out in the elements 95% of the year, so when it gets to these colder temperatures, especially during the holiday season, a lot of them want a warm place to stay,” he said. “They want a place to come in and feel appreciated and feel loved, and to me, that’s what the Salvation Army is here for.”

The folks who took advantage Tuesday got more than just a cot. People can come in starting at 6 p.m. on white flag nights.

“Woke up to a nice breakfast this morning as well and then we had some folks who actually stayed over in for a warming station since the temperatures were still fairly cool this morning,” Carringer said.

“As this weather continues especially tonight and tomorrow night up until Friday most likely, we may see a full capacity,” he added.

The flag goes up by noon when the shelter is going to be open to all that night.

“A lot of our friends in need we know and we get to love on them, we get to speak with them quite often, but to those who may be new to our area or are just needing that place to stay, our doors are open for you. We just want you to come in, get off the streets, have a nice warm place to lay your head and a nice breakfast the next morning.”