Another string of high temperatures has local emergency cooling shelters back open
In Jefferson County volunteers drove around town Thursday, picking up people who are vulnerable to the heat, giving them food, water and a place to cool off.
“I was walking down from Safeway, trying to find a cool place because it was really hot and I sat down and one of the girls from here saw me, and I was about to fall over, she gave me some water and stuff, asking me if I had a place and all that, but she said there was a cooling place up here,” said 30-year Madras resident Danette Wallen.
Volunteers picked up Wallen and took her to the cooling shelter at the Madras Free Methodist Church during a heat wave in July.
Now she tries to return any time the shelter reopens.
“I like to watch movies, I lay down on the beds they got there, the cots, and I watch TV and talk to everybody,” said Wallen about the shelter.
Moving around town, place to place, Wallen doesn’t always have a place to go when temperatures hit triple digits.
“I don’t know what I would do if it wasn’t here, but I am glad it’s here,” she said. “It’s a good place to come to.”
Victor Pedroza knows what it is like to not have anywhere to go, three years ago he was using the shelter himself.
“I was right here; I remember because I love this spot to put my stuff at,” Pedroza said about where he slept while using the shelter.
“From sleeping under bridges, eating out of the garbage, it was horrible being out there,” Pedroza said.
Pedroza went from homeless client, to volunteer, to where he is today.
“This last year I got to be a part of the staff,” he said.
Part of a staff that goes around in a van, picking up those who need a place to cool down.
“We basically rescue people who could be compromised because of dehydrations,” said Shelter Director Pat Abernathy. “We bring them in, we give them mineral water, and we rehydrate them, give them high potassium, high mineral foods, like Oregon juice, bananas and stuff, so when we send them back out five or six hours later, they are well hydrated.”
Thursday the temperature in Madras reached 99 degrees, it’ll be even warmer on Friday and through the weekend.
“We are an emergency shelter, so the point is to save lives and keep the people as healthy as we possibly can,” Abernathy added.
“Today .. I am glad I’m right here,” Wallen said.
The shelter is open 12 – 5 through Saturday, or until temperatures cool down.