Dangerous heat and humidity is smothering much of the South and Midwest

by Chloe Baker
Heatwave Assistance

Thursday saw much of the South and Midwest experiencing a stifling combination of high heat and humidity. To assist vulnerable and less fortunate individuals like the elderly and impoverished, charities and local governments were busy establishing cooling centers and distributing donated air conditioners.

In Florida, where the heat index is predicted to reach up to 44 Celsius (112 Fahrenheit) in the coming days, an “extreme heat cooling center” has been set up in Orlando by the Christian Service Center. The center caters primarily to homeless individuals and others lacking access to air conditioning. Bryan Hampton, a representative of the center, highlighted the often-overlooked daily struggle of those who lack refuge from the intense heat.

The relentless heatwave has reportedly resulted in at least 14 fatalities in Texas and Louisiana. The heat dome causing this is stressing the Texas power grid and is moving east, bringing temperatures that could be 20 degrees above average in some places.

In light of this, the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for areas of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee for Thursday and Friday. In addition, a broader region including parts of Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois have been placed under less urgent heat advisories. Several cities are expected to see the heat index rise to 46 Celsius (115 Fahrenheit).

Amidst the scorching conditions, Tennessee residents, still powerless after Sunday’s storms, were coping with the heat as best they could. John Manger, 74, and his wife, found solace in shaded outdoor areas and cold showers. Their house was one of over 20,000 in Shelby County without electricity on Thursday morning.

Pets and zoo animals were also at risk from the extreme heat. The director of the Kansas City Zoo, Sean Putney, explained that while some animals enjoy the hot weather, others were guided to shaded or air-conditioned places or water bodies for cooling off.

Louisiana had already been grappling with high temperatures over the past month, leading to more than 680 hospitalizations due to heat-related illnesses between May 12 and May 24, according to the state’s Department of Health.

In a disheartening development in St. Louis, the already adverse heat and humidity were aggravated by smoke from Canadian wildfires, significantly reducing air quality. To help, volunteers from Cooldownstlouis.org delivered donated window air conditioners to the elderly and those in need.

This report was contributed by Sainz from Memphis, Tennessee; Goldberg from Jackson, Mississippi; Salter from St. Louis, Missouri. Additional contributions were made by Big Big News reporters Curt Anderson in Miami, Sara Cline in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Nicholas Ingram in Kansas City, Missouri, and Kevin McGill in New Orleans.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Heatwave Assistance

What areas are primarily affected by the heatwave?

The South and Midwest are currently experiencing dangerous levels of heat and humidity.

What measures are being taken to assist vulnerable individuals?

Local governments and charities have been setting up cooling centers and distributing donated air conditioners. In Florida, an “extreme heat cooling center” was established to help those lacking access to air conditioning.

How has the heatwave impacted human health?

The heatwave has contributed to at least 14 deaths in Texas and Louisiana. In addition, over 680 people in Louisiana have been hospitalized for heat-related illnesses over the past month.

What precautions are being taken for animals in this heat?

Officials have warned that the heat could be dangerous for pets. In zoos, animals with less tolerance for heat are being led to shaded or air-conditioned areas and provided access to water to cool down.

How is the power situation in the affected areas?

Power outages are prevalent, with Tennessee residents still without power after storms. In Texas, the heat dome has taxed the power grid, adding to the challenges.

More about Heatwave Assistance

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Jerry McDaniel June 30, 2023 - 4:18 am

man, that heat sounds brutal… hope everyone’s stayin safe out there.

MaggieD June 30, 2023 - 8:25 am

I can’t even imagine what it’s like without AC in such conditions. kudos to all the helpers out there.

Tom J June 30, 2023 - 9:51 am

im from texas, it’s really hot here but we’re dealing. pls pray for the vulnerable though, they need it the most!

Stacy_P June 30, 2023 - 10:54 pm

This is such a serious issue. people need to realize that climate change ain’t a joke! our planet is suffering…


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