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Heat swelters South

BY HEATHER MOYER | Baltimore, MD | July 20, 2000

A strong heat wave is boiling the southern United States from Georgia to California, and had caused as many as 17 deaths by Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators in Louisiana are looking into five heat-related deaths. Local organizations are organizing fan drives and doing whatever they can to help people with no air

conditioners or the lack of funds to run an air conditioner in the severe heat.

The Salvation Army in Shreveport, LA, collected 310 fans with the help of a local credit union and television station and had distributed 170 of them by Wednesday afternoon.

"Anytime there's a need we try to meet it," said Buddy Puryear, Salvation Army business manager. Puryear said they have also distributed fans to the Creswell Hotel, a halfway

house where two elderly men were found dead over the weekend. The hotel has no air conditioning and the temperature in the men's rooms was over 99 degrees.

Emergency management agencies get involved when the heat waves are on a larger and more damaging scale. "At this point it's mostly just local organizations and local police

departments getting involved," said Chuck Mazzioti, director of Caddo-Bossier Office of Emergency Preparedness in Louisiana. "We can only get involved when the heat wave is

linked to low water levels, extreme drought conditions, and fire dangers. We will certainly get involved if it gets worse."

Drought conditions in Texas and Alabama have worsened from the heat. Over 120 towns in Texas have declared water restrictions, and residents of Throckmorten are hurrying

to finish a pipeline before their water supply dries up in about two months. Texas has seen at least 12 heat-related deaths, most of which have been in the Houston area. Elderly

people who have no air conditioning are those who most often have heat problems in the summertime.

Most of the south is supposed to see a break from the high temperatures this weekend.

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