A statewide initiative is now underway to help Alabamians keep cool during this intense heat wave. And thanks to the cooperation between local organizations and the governor's office, those looking to beat the heat now have a place to go during the hot hours of the day.
On Tuesday, Alabama Governor, Bob Riley, asked churches across the state to open their doors to people looking for a place to cool down. Now, several churches here in Dothan are answering that call. State officials in conjunction with local emergency management agencies and churches are establishing cooling stations to help people beat the heat.
"We feel that these are some of the hottest temperatures we've experienced, and we're trying to provide people with a place to be cool," said Dothan/Houston County EMA Director, Clark Matthews.
Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Dothan is one of five churches opening up cooling stations to the public.
“The church is more than willing to do that. We're going to offer them water or something cool to drink for as long as they would like," said Susan Dean, who is coordinating the cooling station at Ridgecrest.
Volunteers at each station say they expect homeless people and the elderly to take advantage of this opportunity, especially those who are on a fixed income and without air conditioning.
In the past week and a half, two people have died, and emergency rooms throughout Alabama have seen an increase in visits from people dealing with heat related illnesses. Now local officials hope that these cooling locations will help keep people cool and out of the ER. Emergency and church officials say they plan to have these cooling stations open at least through Friday.
Each cooling station will be opened from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. No meals will be served at these cooling stations, but, water will be available. Anyone going to these stations will need to take food and any medications they might need.
Officials say they will consider opening these cooling stations longer, if temperatures do not cool down at the end of the week.
For a complete list of the churches with cooling stations click here.