Spokane community supports vulnerable population in extreme heat

SPOKANE, Wash. — Once again, we’re warming up across the Inland Northwest as temperatures surge above 95 degrees.

Gonzaga’s Center for Climate, Society and the Environment recently released a report on the 20 heat-related deaths during last year’s heat dome.

The vast majority of those deaths were among the elderly. With temps in the triple digits, the city is making sure its most vulnerable populations know that they have resources.

Cooling stations give the community a great opportunity to stay cool through the heat, but for those who may not have the resources to get there, Spokane Transit Authority is reminding us, that they’re available to help out.

“Our goal is to make sure everyone is safe and when the temps are above 95, we know that we start to see issues,” explained Brandon Rapez-Betty, Chief Operations Officer of Spokane Transit Authority.

Four of our public libraries will be operating as cooling centers, with extended hours. The Central Library, Shadle Library, Liberty Park Library, and Hillyard Library. STA has bus stops along each of these four locations.

On days when temps go above 95, STA looks to humanitarian efforts to make sure people are staying safe.

“So if you’re at home and you need a place to go and you don’t have the fare, don’t worry about it,” Rapez-Betty added.

An individual can let the bus operator know they’re going to/from a Cooling Center and they simply, don’t have the fare. The bus driver will give that individual a fare exemption, due to the excessive heat.

For those who don’t typically ride the bus, but need to find a route, there’s a great resource. Through trip planning, you can plug in the address of where you’re starting and where you’re going and it will give you step-by-step directions.

Those who don’t use computers can call 509-328-7433 (509-328-RIDE), and the customer service representative can plan the ride for them and let them know exactly where to go to get on the bus.

STA routes run past the time of Cooling Center closures, so you’ll be able to get home and if you don’t have the means to pay for your fare home, the return trip will also be waived given emergency weather conditions.

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