Hundreds of homeless people die in the heat


Phoenix (AP) — Hundreds of blue, green, and gray tents under the scorching rays of the sun in downtown Phoenix. Along the dusty sidewalk, flimsy canvas and plastic are messed up. Here, in America’s hottest metropolis, thousands of homeless people get hot when summer triple-digit temperatures arrive.

The suffocating tent city swelled amid pandemic peasant farming and soaring rents, throwing hundreds of people into the sizzling streets, which eerily quieted when temperatures peaked in the middle of the afternoon. Due to the heat wave earlier this month, the maximum temperature reached 114 degrees Celsius (45.5 degrees Celsius). This is only June. Last year’s highest temperature reached 118 degrees Celsius (47.7 degrees Celsius).

“During the summer, it’s pretty hard for the police to find a cool night place to sleep without kicking you out,” said the homeless, known on the street as the “T-Bone” that carries everything he owns. Phoenix man Chris Medlock said he often puts himself in a small backpack and lays down in a park or nearby desert reserve to avoid congestion.

“If a kind person could provide a place for an indoor sofa, more people would live,” Medlock said in a dining room where homeless people could have a shade and free meals.

Excessive heat causes more weather-related deaths in the United States than the sum of hurricanes, floods and tornadoes.

Nationwide, fever contributes to about 1,500 deaths annually, and supporters estimate that about half of those people are homeless.

Due to global warming, temperatures are rising almost everywhere, and in some places, coupled with cruel droughts, produce more intense, frequent, and longer heat waves. The last few summers have been the hottest summers on record.

Only in counties, including Phoenix, At least 130 homeless Among the 339 people who died from heat-related causes in 2021.

Christie L. Shrimp, a professor of global health at the University of Washington, said:

This is a problem that is widespread throughout the United States, and now that the temperature of the earth is rising, heat is no longer dangerous just in places like Phoenix.

According to the report, this summer can be hotter than normal on most land areas around the world. Seasonal map Volunteer climatologist created for the International Institute of Columbia University.

Last summer, heat waves struck the normally warm northwestern United States, where Seattle residents slept in their gardens and roofs, or fled to air-conditioned hotels. A few presumed homeless people died outdoors throughout the state, including a man who collapsed behind a gas station.

In Oregon, authorities have opened the first 24-hour cooling center. Volunteer team instigated With water and popsicles to a homeless camp on the outskirts of Portland.

A Rapid scientific analysis Last year’s Pacific Northwest heat wave concluded that anthropogenic climate change had increased several times and was virtually impossible without breaking previous records.

Even Boston is looking for ways to protect diverse areas such as Chinatown, where population density and some shade trees can help raise temperatures to 106 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Celsius) on summer days. The city plans strategies such as increasing canopy and other types of shade, using cool materials for the roof, and expanding the network of cooling centers during heat waves.

It’s not just a US issue. Associated Press Analysis Last year, a dataset published by Columbia University’s Climate School found that extreme heat exposure tripled, now affecting about a quarter of the world’s population.

Extreme heat waves struck most of Pakistan and India this spring. Homeless people are rampant there because of discrimination and inadequate housing. The highest temperature in Jacobabad, Pakistan, near the border with India, reached 122 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Celsius) in May.

Dr. Dileep Mavalankar, director of the Indian Public Health Institute in the western Indian city of Gandhinagar, said it is unclear how many people died in the country due to heat exposure due to insufficient reporting.

Since the heat wave killed 70,000 people across Europe in 2003, summer cooling centers for the homeless, the elderly and other vulnerable people have been opened in several European countries each summer.

Bicycle rescuers patrol the city of Madrid, handing out ice packs and water during hot weather. Still, in Spain, about 1,300 people die each summer due to health complications exacerbated by excessive heat, most of them elderly.

Spain and southern France became hot and humid last week due to the extraordinary heat of mid-June, with temperatures reaching 104 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Celsius) in some areas.

David Hondaura, a climate scientist responsible for Phoenix New office for heat reliefProtects vulnerable people, especially homeless people who are about 200 times more likely to die from heat-related causes than protected individuals, as such extreme weather events become more common around the world. It states that more solutions are needed for this.

“As temperatures continue to rise in the United States and around the world, we also need to coordinate cities that lack the experience and infrastructure to deal with heat, such as Seattle, Minneapolis, New York, and Kansas City.”

In Phoenix, officials and supporters hope that a vacant building recently converted into a 200-bed shelter for homeless people will help save lives this summer.

34-year-old MacMais was one of the first to move.

“It can be rough. I stay in shelters and places where I can find it,” said Mais, who has been homeless since he was a teenager. “Here I can actually take a break, work on a job application and escape the heat.”

In Las Vegas, the team delivers bottled water to camps around the county and homeless people living within a network of underground storm drains beneath the Las Vegas Strip.

Ahmedabad, India, has a population of 8.4 million and was the first in South Asia to develop a heat control plan in 2013.

Through its warning system, non-governmental groups reach out to vulnerable people and send text messages to their mobile phones. Water trucks will be dispatched to slums, and bus stops, temples and libraries will be shelters for people to escape the fierce rays of light.

Still, death is piled up.

Kimberly Rayhos, a 62-year-old homeless woman, suffered severe burns in October 2020 when she was chaotically spread over an unknown time on a sizzling Phoenix black top. The cause of her subsequent death was never investigated.

A young man, nicknamed Twitch, died in the heat as he sat on a curb near a Phoenix kitchen hours before opening one weekend in 2018.

“He was planning to move to a permanent home next Monday,” said Jim Bakker, who oversees the dining room at St. Vincent de Paul Charity. “His mother was devastated.”

Many such deaths have never been identified as being associated with fever and are not always noticed due to the stigma of the homeless and the lack of family ties.

A 62-year-old mentally ill woman Shawna Wright has passed away Last summer, her death was known in the hot alleys of Salt Lake City when the system failed to protect her in the hottest July, when temperatures reached three digits. It was only when the family published the article.

Her sister, Tricia Wright, said making it easier for homeless people to get permanent homes would greatly help protect them from extreme summer temperatures.

“We always thought she was tough. She was able to get over it, but no one is tough enough for such heat,” Tricia said. Wright talked about her sister.


New Delhi AP science writer Aniruddha Ghosal, Roman AP writer Frances D’Emilio and Madrid’s Ciaran Giles contributed to this report.

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