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Tri-State cities working to keep vulnerable populations cool during oppressive heat

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Posted at 3:26 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 07:23:15-04

As temperatures hovered in the 90s Thursday — with the heat index making it feel even hotter — Terry Vance feels lucky the city of Wilder, Kentucky, has a brand new splash pad to help keep people cool who don't have access to air conditioning.

"A lot of people have found it," said Vance, an administrator for the city. "A lot of people we've got, you know, even field trips coming to it... A lot of people are beating the heat by using it."

Vance isn't alone in using city assets to help people avoid dangerously hot temperatures. Across the Ohio River, City of Cincinnati officials opened its rec center lobbies to anyone who needs a break from the heat. People without air conditioners or homes to shelter in were welcome to take refuge indoors.

Christine Schuermann, with Saint Francis Seraph Ministries, said people experiencing homelessness can become especially vulnerable to heat-related health issues and that keeping them cool poses a perennial challenge.

"So this morning at breakfast, everybody got bottled water when they left," she said. "We took water over to the shelter house; we took water over to the church next door. We have water outside our door today."

Schuermann said she's hopeful the "cooling centers" will assist their efforts, too, but acknowledged that the same challenges her ministry faces during more mild weather still persist in hot days.

"It's always a challenge, especially with those that are chronically homeless, to encourage them to seek help in a facility," she said. "All the various services that are available to them, there's just — there's always a challenge with trust in whether or not they trust enough to take advantage of the services."

Anyone seeking assistance in escaping the heat can also reach out to the Community Action Agency.