North Texas volunteers helping homeless residents, homebound elders stay cool during heatwave
DALLAS - The extreme heat is putting the most vulnerable people in North Texas in danger.
A Dallas shelter is stepping up efforts to help people stay cool. The heat has been relentless.
The pastor of Our Calling says he knows of at least two homeless people who have died from chronic heat exposure. Volunteers are going out to try and get these folks off the streets.
Other organizations like the Visiting Nurse Association are doing their part to help our most vulnerable residents stay cool.
The line outside of Our Calling in Dallas began forming around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The shelter opened its doors earlier than usual so homeless residents could get out of the scorching heat.
"For us, it’s not just about making people feel comfortable," said Our Calling CEO Pastor Wayne Walker. "It’s about saving lives."
An estimated 1,300 people in Dallas County are unsheltered, according to the most recent homeless census.
Walker says last week they doubled their usual turnout at the shelter due to the relentless heat. This week, it’s more of the same.
Walker says he knows of at least two homeless people who have died from heat-related causes.
"We've got people exposed not only to heat exhaustion but heat stroke," he said.
Rescue crews, which Walker is a part of, go out on the streets of Dallas in an effort to get reluctant men and women to come inside the shelter. There, they can also be connected to more long-term services.
"The heat makes things a lot more dangerous. It makes it more critical to get people off the streets," Walker said.
The Visiting Nurse Association of Texas is also doing its part to protect its vulnerable clients.
Through the organization's meals on wheels program, which delivers food to some 4,500 clients five days a week, they're able to also provide folks with fans.
"Any client who needs one, we just deliver it to them when we deliver our meals," said Chris Culak with the organization.
The fans are donated.
Last year, Culak says they gave out some 400 fans. This summer, the organization has already delivered 200 to residents.
With triple-digits forecasted in North Texas for some time, Culak doesn't see the need letting up.
"We tell our volunteers take a look to see does the person seem overheated? Does their house seem hot when you're delivering the meals? Ask them how they're doing? Are they staying cool?" he said. "It's really about checking in on them every day. Hey, how are you doing? What else can we do to help you?"
MedStar says it transported two people to the hospital Tuesday due to heat-related health conditions.
A spokesman says one of the critical cases in the past two days was an elderly patient found at home by the family after two days of no contact. They say that’s why it’s important to check on your homebound loved ones and neighbors.