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U.S. Melting Under Heat Wave

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  • Mike Neuman
    July 2005 may well turn out to be the hottest July on record in the U.S.. (prediction) Excerpt (second article): We ve gone through some hot days before, but
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 20, 2005
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      July 2005 may well turn out to be the hottest July on record in the
      U.S.. (prediction)

      Excerpt (second article):
      "We've gone through some hot days before, but this has really been a
      hot couple of weeks," said Jeff Taylor of the Phoenix Rescue
      Mission. "It's really getting to a point of crisis."

      Tuesday's high in Phoenix was 111 degrees, down from Sunday's record


      U.S. Melting Under Heat Wave
      PHOENIX, July 20, 2005

      The number of heat-related deaths in Phoenix continued to climb
      Tuesday, reaching 12, as above-average temperatures kept sweating the

      But it's not just Phoenix, or even the Southwest: It's hot in most of
      the country.

      "It's been steamy from the Gulf Coast all the way to New England,
      featuring afternoon thunderstorms throughout the region," says CBS
      News Meteorologist George Cullen.

      A week-long heat wave has hit California's San Joaquin Valley,
      reports CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen. One farm worker is dead
      from heat exhaustion there. And in Los Angeles, three men nearly
      suffocated in the closed car in which they were sleeping.

      Thirteen illegal migrants have died in the Arizona desert in the last
      four days and the Border Patrol is finding more victims needing help.

      Since Saturday, Phoenix police reported a dozen people had died of
      apparent heat-related illnesses. Ten were homeless; the other two
      were elderly women, including one whose home cooling system wasn't

      By comparison, the Arizona Department of Health Services documented
      34 deaths because of heat-related illnesses among all Arizona
      residents last year. The number of illegal immigrants killed by heat-
      related illnesses are counted separately.

      Phoenix has endured above average temperatures every day since June
      29, with the high expected to reach 112 degrees on Tuesday. Even
      during the coolest part of the day, the mercury failed to descend
      lower than 91 degrees.

      The elderly are especially vulnerable.

      "It's really awful. It's just taking all my strength," one woman told
      CBS News.

      The spike in deaths prompted the mayor on Monday to ask for water
      donations. The city has only a two-day supply of bottled water to
      hand out, reports Bowen.

      Bill Manson, development coordinator for Central Arizona Shelter
      Services, said a number of companies and individuals had been
      donating water and organizing drives to collect bottled water.
      People were being exposed to sweltering conditions, in part because
      there simply isn't enough space to go around, he said, noting that
      CASS can't house more than 520 people and an estimated 8,000 homeless
      people live in Maricopa County.

      "There's just not near enough shelters," Manson said.

      The Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada Summer Day Shelter in Las
      Vegas, which opened on July 1, has been forced to double its capacity
      in the last week because of near-record temperatures in the Las Vegas
      Valley. The director of the shelter, Phillip Hollon, said that
      because of the heat wave, they have seen "massive numbers" of people.

      Will Humble, bureau chief for disease control at the Arizona
      Department of Health Services, said while homeless people are among
      those at highest risk from suffering a heat-related illness, most who
      die every year are people who work outside.

      "I don't want to leave people with the impression that homeless
      people are the only people at risk," he said.

      The head of the Presbyterian Church USA says entering the country
      illegally "should never mean a death penalty."

      Church Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase said Christian groups in the area
      have set up water stations in areas where immigrants have died, and
      the church groups also are sending out rescue teams to provide food,
      water and medical care.

      Those doing strenuous activity outside can use up to a gallon of
      water an hour and often also risk depletion of electrolytes,
      particularly sodium and potassium, even if they are consuming water.

      Even those sitting still in the shade need a liter or two an hour,
      Humble said.

      Strangely, another weather problem could help, says Cullen: Hurricane

      "Some of that moisture could eventually get into the Southwest, which
      could bring some at least brief relief to that region, but that
      probably wouldn't occur until the weekend."
      Death toll from heat climbs to 13
      'Point of crisis' nears for people on Valley's streets

      Judi Villa
      The Arizona Republic
      Jul. 20, 2005 12:00 AM

      The death toll from the Valley's ongoing heat wave rose to 13 on
      Tuesday after four more people in Phoenix and one in Tempe were found

      Twelve of the deaths have been in Phoenix, which usually sees no more
      than 10 heat-related deaths in a year. And that death count likely is
      even higher, said police Lt. Benny Piña.

      Piña said he is aware of at least three more deaths on Sunday
      night that were handled by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's
      Office and have not been included in heat-related deaths released by

      Valley-wide, all but two of the dead were homeless. Ten were men.

      "It still is brutally hot," Piña said. "We hope they get some
      water and get some help. It's taxing."

      Officials worry the death toll will continue to mount until rain and
      cooler temperatures move into the Valley, possibly by the weekend.

      Tuesday's high was 111 degrees, down from Sunday's record 116.

      "We've gone through some hot days before, but this has really been a
      hot couple of weeks," said Jeff Taylor of the Phoenix Rescue
      Mission. "It's really getting to a point of crisis."

      Officials and social-service agencies continued Tuesday to try to get
      enough water to the homeless. Youths paroled from the Arizona
      Department of Juvenile Corrections helped hand out water at Margaret
      T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix. The Salvation Army distributed
      water and sack lunches to the homeless.

      The Phoenix Rescue Mission opened its campus all day for what's
      believed to be the first time in about four decades. Sprinklers were
      turned on so the homeless could soak their clothes. In the chapel,
      old episodes of Rawhide played.

      "You don't just get hydrated in drinking a bottle of water. It takes
      hours, even days, to get hydrated. When it gets this hot for this
      many days, it really starts to wear on you," Taylor said. "We'll do
      anything to get people out of this heat."

      Dan Evans, 40, who secured one of the shelter's 110 beds on Monday,
      said it was so hot on the streets he would have to stop walking and
      rest in the shade "every three to four seconds." He survived by
      getting free water and ice from stores.

      "My body has never got that hot," Evans said. "It still hasn't cooled

      Russell Bates, 39, who was homeless until he got a bed at the shelter
      last week, still has spent the past couple of days in the heat
      because he doesn't have a job. Normally, the shelter doesn't open
      until 4 p.m., although three meals a day are served.

      Bates spent most days at the library, reading books. It's an hour and
      40-minute walk from the shelter or a quick bus ride if he had some

      "It's definitely intense," Bates said of the heat. "The thing is
      where do you go. You can sit under a shade tree, but that even takes
      a toll. . . . I'm very happy to be here."

      Bates helped pass out water to the homeless on Tuesday morning and
      said he is starting a job search today. On Tuesday afternoon, he
      filled a cup with ice water and retreated inside the chapel to watch

      "This is a refuge," he said.

      The Phoenix deaths include two on Saturday, five on Sunday, four on
      Monday and one on Tuesday afternoon. Among the dead were two elderly
      women; one didn't have a working air-conditioner in her home.

      The transient in Tempe was found dead Monday night.

      Rachel Southard of the Salvation Army said the biggest concern for
      workers was getting water to the homeless.

      "The heat, you can tell, is really getting overwhelming for some
      people," Southard said. "Everybody that they interact with is
      overheated and in desperate need of water. The heat is just
      unbearable right now."
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