PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Folks all over Hampton Roads are struggling to stay warm as temperatures dip below freezing. One city is keeping an extra close eye on the elderly to make sure they stay safe.
"When you get old it seems like nobody cares," said Portsmouth deputy Larry Compton.
The Portsmouth Sheriff's Office is trying to make sure that doesn't happen.
"They (seniors) feel like when we call and check on them, they feel like we're looking out for them," Compton added.
For five years, Compton has been checking on seniors. It's part of the Senior Watch Program.
"It's always a good idea to check on them to make sure they are okay," Compton added.
At 71, Compton is beyond the age where he can be a sworn law enforcement officer. He took WAVY.com with him to his civilian job running the senior program.
"We have about close to 90 seniors in all that we call. The ones we don't catch, we make a note of them and then go check on them," Compton said. "We find them when they don't have heat. We've ended up contacting social services."
Deputies call and visit the seniors daily.
"We all owe it to our elders to try to help them anyway we can," Compton added.
Lt. Lee Cherry , the Public Information Officer for the Portsmouth Sheriff's Office told WAVY.com, "If you do live in Portsmouth and you know of an elderly person, call the sheriff's department, get in touch with Deputy Compton and we'll put them on the list and look out. But we need to start watching out for each other - and everybody needs to do it."
The need to reach out to older loved ones and neighbors is great.
"I certainly feel safe," said 89-year-old Evelyn Pitt. "I feel safe when I know that somebody's checking up on me."
Last month, the region's Chief Medical Examiner confirmed hypothermia contributed to three deaths in Hampton Roads. The Virginia Department of Health reports nearly half of all hypothermia victims are elderly. Health officials say that is because people with advanced age have trouble adjusting to extremely cold temperatures.
The Senior Watch Program in Portsmouth is accepting new residents. The number for more information is 393-5461.
A company has been hired to complete the repairs to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks, but how long those repairs will take remains unknown.
Drivers traveling between Hatteras Island and the mainland were forced to use an emergency ferry Wednesday, following the sudden closure of the Bonner Bridge Tuesday.
State officials say construction on a new Bonner Bridge has been delayed for years because of a legal battle with an environmental group.