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Local Groups Help People Chill in Extreme Heat

Travis Zimpfer
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cool_down_stlouis

St. Louis (KMOX) – 88 degrees Fahrenheit with a high barely reaching 90, 66 percent humidity, a light breeze coming out of the east at 7 mph and just a few clouds in the sky, and it will be cooling down throughout the week. Sounds nice right about now, doesn’t it? Well, these are the current weather conditions in Manaus, Brazil, a city that lies in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest and only a few hundred miles away from the Equator.

Today in St. Louis, we have a high of 97 degrees with just a bit less humidity at 53 percent and temperatures are only getting hotter, with highs getting over 100 on Wednesday and Thursday. Excessive heat warnings have been issued for the whole week and the National Weather Service is advising people to stay inside and turn on the A/C.

But not every home in St. Louis has an air conditioner, and two people have already died from the heat in St. Louis. One of their air conditioners was blowing hot air and the other’s wasn’t turned on.

But people without their own relief from the heat have people they can call.

“With the heat returning to St. Louis, we’re just letting people know there is some help available if they call EnergyCare” Dennis Kelley, executive director of the organization says.

EnergyCare has been working since 1983 to help low-income families keep the inside of their homes hospitable in extreme temperatures. Since their inception, they’ve supplied St. Louis residents with nearly 5,000 air conditioners during the summer. This year, they’ve already delivered 100 units to the elderly, the poor and to people with disabilities or other medical conditions that make them more susceptible to scorching temperatures.

“We’re continually looking for people who are most vulnerable to the heat,” Kelley says. “Our concern right now is they’re not feeling totally alone, that they know they can go ahead give EnergyCare a call, and they can get the help that they require.

“This is the time of the year where you want to take all precautions in regards to your personal health and well-being.”

Kelley added that EnergyCare is expecting to help at least another 100 homes this week from the heat wave that’s slammed into the Midwest. The organization doesn’t just deliver new air conditioners though; they also “tune up” older air conditioners.

But EnergyCare isn’t the only group helping St. Louisians deal with the heat. Cool Down St. Louis is having an air-conditioning drive, buying 100 A/C units from Home Depot from donations and then handing them out to families who need them as early as tomorrow.

“We’ve been doin’ this all summer,” Rev. Earl E. Nance Jr., Chairman Emeritus of Cool Down St. Louis, says. “It’s even more important with this heat wave because we’re getting even more calls than we would normally get for our help.”

Nance says Cool Down St. Louis has helped 600 people, especially the elderly, get air conditioning into their homes this summer.

“Many seniors who may have air conditioning, because they’re still struggling with their bills, may decline to turn it on, and we want them to turn their air on because it’s too dangerous for them to go without air,” Nance says.

Both Cool Down St. Louis and EnergyCare are working to keep the heat at bay for St. Louis residents that lack A/C.

And when St. Louis is hotter than the Amazon Rainforest, people without air conditioning need all the help they can get.

You can donate money to Cool Down St. Louis through their website, or by going to a participating UMB Bank.

EnergyCare is also looking for donations. If you have an old wall-mounted air conditioner you’d like to donate, call (314)773-5900.

Copyright KMOX 2011

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