BELL COUNTY, TX — Central Texans are battling the extreme temperatures this summer but not everyone has a way to cool down.
”They are far and few between and this is one of the few places that you can go to that I know of,” said Richard Lose, a homeless veteran in Killeen.
While most Central Texans have air-conditioned cars, homes, or offices to take a break from the triple-digit temperatures we’re experiencing, much of the homeless population doesn’t.
”They really have nowhere to go once they leave here unless they’re going to work or they have a family member’s house where they can stay during the day,” said Maria Carmona, coordinator of Friends In Crisis Homeless Shelter in Killeen. “The library, they may go to the library but that’s it.”
Having a place to cool down is only half the battle, staying hydrated is much harder for a person with very little means.
”A lot of the factors that people don’t realize, including their diet and nutrition. Which goes a lot into electrolyte metabolism,” said Dr. Randy Hartman, MD., Emergency Physician with Baylor Scott & White. “So, frequently they’re low on salt, low on potassium, and electrolytes that go along with hydration that frequently they’re low on as well too.”
It’s not just dehydration that those who can’t escape the sun are in for.
”Especially between the hours of 10 o’clock to 4 p.m. You know that is intense UV radiation. About 2,000 watts per meter squared,” said Dr. Hartman. “For someone with fair skin, that’s enough for someone to get sunburned in less than 10 minutes.”
While the folks at Friends In Crisis Homeless Shelter in Killeen are able to help around 70 people a day, it’s not even close to the total amount of homeless people in the area that need a place to go.
”It’s unbelievable, this is only like 2 percent of the people out there on the streets,” said Richard Lose, homeless veteran in Killeen. “The majority of people aren’t willing to come into these kinds of places just because of their lifestyle.”
While the City of Killeen is advising people to take refuge in public facilities Friends In Crisis is helping as many people as they can.
”I go around the corner where they hang out at and tell them to come on, it’s too hot out here and I let them come in,” said Carmona.
There are hundreds of homeless people in the area stuck in triple-digit temperatures and there are simply not enough shelters or other places they can go in Bell County to escape the life-threatening heat.