Few are taking advantage of city cooling centers

August 10, 2012 12:46:14 AM PDT
During this heat wave, cooling centers have been opened to provide a refuge from the heat.

As the temperature soars well past the 100 degree mark, some Fresno residents are finding a cool haven in doors.

But the centers often seem under-utilized. One resident we spoke with didn't know where the centers were located, even though he lives just a few blocks away from one.

"Not notified. We don't know," Rev. Tito Rodriguez said. "This is the first time hearing about it. So if we don't know why should we go."

Heather Heinks with the city understands the challenges with bringing people to the centers and says they rely upon neighbors and agencies to let people know about the program.

Heinks said, "If someone isn't familiar they might not venture down the street and go into that cooling center."

However, she says people are using the four cooling centers throughout Fresno. More than 7,500 people have used the pools this summer. That's more than double the number last year.

"Today marks the 15th day that we have been opened compared to last year, we were only opened four days as cooling center active," Heinks. "So we are definitely seeing usage of the pools, the cooling centers and just a variety of people coming through looking for relief."

Heinks also says people can ride on a city bus to get to the centers and pools free of charge. She hopes that as the temperatures rise, more and people will let their neighbors know about the cooling centers.

"If we've served just a handful of people we're still helping somebody get out of that heat," Heinks said.

PG&E helps fund the cost of operating the cooling centers and pools. The four cooling centers will be open until 8pm, swimming until 7pm. You can also call 621-CITY (2489) for more information.


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