As temperatures inched above 100 degrees for a second straight day in Tyler on Tuesday, Michael Hack found sanctuary inside the cool of the public library.
The 21-year-old homeless resident carries two 1-liter bottles of water with him that he fills wherever he can.
“I fill them here (the library) or sometimes find a hose,” he said. “Usually when I go in somewhere and say 'Hey can I fill these up here,' they don't have a problem with it.”
And when Hack can't be inside, he sticks to the shade.
When temperatures begin to rise, those vulnerable to extreme heat, including the homeless and senior citizens, must find ways to stay cool.
The homeless population often seeks shelter inside the library during the day, a homeless coalition leader said.
Summer is “really the most critical time for us because we have such life-threatening conditions,” Ms. Bell said, noting, though, that monetary donations are always at their lowest in the summer.
Senior citizens on a fixed income, such as the ones who use services from Meals On Wheels Ministry Inc., also are a population vulnerable to the heat this summer.
“We've seen people on the route (Tuesday) with no air and running fans,” said Zoe Lawhorn, director of development with Meals On Wheels Ministry, Inc.
Last year, a couple donated several air conditioning units to Meals On Wheels that the organization was able to distribute, said Nora Reyes, director of public relations and community outreach.
“It's by the grace of God if donors decide to donate units,” she said.
Meals On Wheels client Edna Hester, 75, wasn't able to afford to run her air conditioning last summer — she had to get help from Greater East Texas Community Action Program (GETCAP) and from friends, she said. Ms. Hester is home-bound and lives only on her Social Security checks, she said.
Ms. Hester said she has suffered three heat strokes in the past and sometimes feels nauseous when she stays outside for too long.
“I have air conditioning right now and am doing OK as long as I can come up with the money to afford it,” she said.
Ms. Bell of The Salvation Army said a concern is that people who have air conditioning won't be able to pay the high cost and their services will be cut off.
“If they choose not to run their air conditioner, there's a potential that they can overheat in their own homes,” she said. “We can help with utility assistance when we can, that's why monetary donations are so important.”
Many of the people who come to People Attempting To Help (PATH) for services can't afford to run their air conditioning, Becky Duncan, community outreach coordinator, said. PATH offers assistance with electricity bills whenever their budget allows.
PATH and The Salvation Army are collecting fans this summer to give to those who need extra help cooling off.
While that summer sizzle is officially on, Hack has seen worse in the last couple of years that he's “off and on” lived homeless.
“At least it's not the way it was last year,” he said. “(Last year) if you stood still too long you felt like the heat would suffocate you.”
KYTX CBS19 Chief Meteorologist John Adams said there were 81 days of temperatures at 100 degrees or higher last summer.
“The average is about seven, so it was very unusual. We are not starting off like that this year,” Adams said.
“For the next few days we are supposed to have temperatures that challenge 100 degrees, but by the weekend it should start to cool off a bit. However, we will still see temperatures in the mid- to upper- nineties.
“We have a ways to go to match last year and it is too early to tell how the rest of the summer will shape up.”
Staff Writer Brittni Barnett contributed to this report.