A word to the wise from guests at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church warming shelter: If you're going to walk along Remount Road, make sure you're facing traffic.

Trucks and cars could be seen fishtailing across sheets of ice Thursday morning, before North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey declared a state of emergency at noon and urged against any unnecessary travel. Pedestrians kept their heads on a pivot as vehicles careened around corners and swerved onto sidewalks.

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Aldersgate UMC 2

Lunch is served Thursday at Aldersgate United Methodist Church on Remount Road in North Charleston. The church opened its doors as the snowstorm blew in earlier in the week. It remained open as a warming shelter during the day Thursday. Paul Bowers/Staff

The shelter was one of a handful of safe havens from the elements — and the traffic — as North Charlestonians ventured out under clear skies following a lengthy afternoon snowstorm Wednesday.

Inside the church, the Rev. Erik Grayson darted around solving problems as church member Judith Pfaehler prepared lunch for more than 30 people.

"We've got 99 problems," Grayson said.

In an ordinary winter, when the temperature dips below 35 degrees, Aldersgate only serves as a nighttime shelter. But as the snow rolled in on Wednesday, followed by more subfreezing temperatures, the church decided to keep the shelter running all day, for as many days as necessary.

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Park Circle spinout

A pickup truck skids into an embankment on Park Circle in North Charleston Thursday morning. Many streets were covered in a solid sheet of ice in the morning but began thawing into a gray sludge by the afternoon. Paul Bowers/Staff

That means they're short on volunteers to check in guests, serve meals, and supervise overnight. Another problem: The pipes keep freezing. And another: The propane water heater for the showers broke Thursday and needs replacing.

"It'll come. God provides," Grayson said.

Pfaehler said help kept coming, too. North Charleston police officers were giving rides to the church and even trying their hand at plumbing repair Thursday. And neighbors kept bringing pots of soup to share.

Teamwork abounded as neighbors opened their doors to those in need. The American Red Cross and the City of North Charleston opened a warming shelter at the North Charleston Coliseum. Farther inland, the Summerville Community Resource Center worked with Dorchester County Emergency Management and the Interfaith Disaster Council of Goose Creek to provide heated shelter and food.

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Orange Spot snow day

Laura Cannon (left) and Julie Buelk, co-owners of North Charleston's Orange Spot Coffee, serve a steady stream of customers Thursday morning. "People need meeting houses. It's where we come to share our stories," Cannon said. Paul Bowers/Staff

Schools remained closed across the tri-county area, and many employers were telling workers to stay home. Families — particularly ones with children or snow-loving dogs — could be seen patrolling the streets of North Charleston's Park Circle neighborhood toting makeshift sleds.

A handful of local businesses opened their doors Thursday morning: The Olde Village Market & Deli, Orange Spot Coffee, and (why not?) Accent on Wine. Inside the Orange Spot, a steady stream of customers ordered hot drinks and commiserated about the rare cold snap.

Laura Cannon, co-owner of the coffee shop, could be seen bounding into the business early in the morning, her head bouncing up and down in the windows. A native of North Dakota, she said she hadn't seen snow like this since moving here in 2000.

"She frolicked in here," said co-owner Julie Buelk.

Cannon said she was relieved to hear that her neighbors were safe from the storm, and glad to open her doors for an impromptu neighborhood gathering place.

"People need meeting houses," Cannon said. "It's where we come to share our stories."

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Olde Village Market and Deli, North Charleston

Lynn Sikora, owner of the Olde Village Market and Deli on East Montague Avenue in North Charleston, kept the store open Thursday and saw a steady stream of customers who arrived on foot. "I know a lot of people are landlocked," Sikora said. "They don't have a way to get in and out, and this was a lot bigger than anybody anticipated." Paul Bowers/Staff

Reach Paul Bowers at 843-937-5546. Follow him on Twitter @paul_bowers.