FOREST, Va. -

An air mattress is not the most comfortable place to sleep, but Kathryn Flack says it's a lot warmer than home.

She lives in a tent off Campbell Avenue in Lynchburg.

"It's me, my husband, and a friend living there," Flack said.  "We get by day-by-day."

Flack is used to being outside during cold weather, but Monday's night's temperatures were too dangerous.

Blue Ridge Community Church in Forest is giving her shelter.

"The relief I have received here has been splendid," said Flack.

After seeing the week's forecast, church leaders turned their building into a relief center.

"We're offering something that's brand new for us," said Woody Torrence, senior pastor at Blue Ridge Community Church.  "We've really never done this before."

Torrence knows there's a huge need, not only for the homeless like Flack, but also for the people without electricity.

More than 1,300 Appalachian Power customers lost service in Amherst County Tuesday, when a substation off Route 60 malfunctioned.

Mary Harvey realized her power was gone when she woke up overnight to a freezing house.

"Usually you can feel when it's cold, but this was just going right through me," Harvey said.

She was able to warm up at Grace Baptist Church in Madison Heights.

"There's a lot of older people like me that live by themselves and somebody's got to be there to help us," said Harvey.

Neither church had plans to serve as an emergency shelter.  Both opened their doors at the last minute.

Volunteers have donated blankets and clothes.  Restaurants are providing free food.

The generosity is allowing these shelters to stay open as long as they're needed.

"It's been exciting to see how it's touched a nerve," Torrence said.  "It's really resonated with a lot of people."