GREATER VILLE – A late-week surge in temperatures across the city has had health care workers scrambling, with constant warnings going out about the dangers that come with heat indexes reaching 110 degrees and more.
The official heat advisory has now been extended until 8 p.m. Sunday. Thunderstorms are expected to move in and finally push out the high temperatures.
For some city residents, such as Louis Henry, it didn’t take the National Weather Service to tell them it was time for caution. Henry, who has been homeless for about a year, was doing anything possible to avoid the oppressive heat, but that’s not easy when you are stuck outside.
“I don’t have anywhere to go,” said Henry, who was trying to cope Friday by lying on concrete underneath a porch-top on the top step of a vacant apartment building. Shade was the only thing providing a respite for Henry and his friend, Jasmine Little.
The day before, he said, a bag with his outer clothing and other belongings was stolen, keeping him from being able to enter a nearby cooling center.
In the shade Friday, it was still 98 degrees with a heat index above 110 degrees.
“It’s hot. It’s terrible. It makes me dizzy and stressed,” Henry said. “I have no choice but to be outside, but it could be worse. It could be snowing.”
Many others, while not faced with living in the heat, are still having to cope with it.
Tracy Davis has to get to work and back but has no car. Public transportation is her only option, meaning a walk to the bus stop, and a wait once there.
To avoid some of the heat, she was armed with her portable, folding chair, umbrella, a rag, bottle of water and a tiny, battery-operated face fan.
She and a friend sat, about 30 yards from her bus stop. She had visited the friend, who didn’t give her name, for a while after work and was on her way home. She chose a different location from the designated bus pick-up spot.
“It’s just too hot up there at the bus stop,” she said. “I wish they had some kind of dark tint on the glass to block the sun.”
At home, she has air conditioning. However, some of her neighbors do not. She said she used to give them fans, “but now they are saying that the hot air from the fans makes it worse,” Davis said.
In fact, “fans only kill them,” said Gentry Trotter, interim executive director of Cool Down St. Louis.
Trotter said the cooling organization, which supplies air conditioners and helps with utilities, had been very busy in the past few hot days.
“We spent all week back and forth between north and south city,” Trotter said. “We’re helping a lot of city people because they live in brick houses and they are like ovens when it’s in the 80s, let alone when it’s in the 90s and the index is over 100,” he said.
The organization has also been working with Ameren UE to avoid disconnections.
“We work with a lot of people and organizations because we don’t want people to have to face harsh weather without utilities or an AC,” Trotter said.
The organization been helping people stay cool in St. Louis for nearly 20 years. They also provide service from St. Charles County to Illinois.
Priority is giving to seniors and disabled residents. For more information visit www.cooldownstlouis.org or call (314)241-7668.