ashland.news
July 14, 2024

Ashland cooling center opens during excessive heat warning period

The city of Ashland shelter building at 2200 Ashland St. Ashland.news photo by Cameron Aalto
July 7, 2024

Ashland Street center provides food, drinks, rest areas and cool clean air for residents

By Cameron Aalto, Ashland.news 

With temperatures soaring over 100 degrees, the Ashland cooling center has opened to provide heat relief services at 2200 Ashland St

Avram Sacks, volunteer coordinator for the cooling center, says that the center has seen around 15 individuals each day since opening Thursday, July 4. “As it continues everyday, we’ll probably get more people, and (even more) as we get the word out about it,” Sacks said.

Sacks says that it is important that Ashland offers a cooling center because “un-housed people don’t have, often, a place to go to get out of the heat, so that’s why the city offers it, because it can get very life threatening to be out in that heat too long. People can get dehydrated and get heat stroke, sometimes people are sick and they have diarrhea and they can get very seriously ill. Some people are on medications that make them more susceptible to the heat.”

Sacks recommends that individuals or families impacted by the heat come to the cooling center.

“Get on a bus and come here, and we recommend even if they don’t have a bus pass or money, that they get on a bus, to tell the bus driver that they need to get out of the heat; pretty likely that the bus driver’s gonna let them on the bus,” Sacks said. “And also, people can call me. If they’re around downtown Ashland, I’ll come and get them.”

To contact Sacks, call or text 541-220-7307.

The center has been open daily since the Fourth of July. The center will remain open on days where the temperature meets or exceeds 95 degrees and/or the air quality index exceeds 150. The center will be open daily from noon to 7 p.m. through Sunday, July 14, Rogue Valley Emergency Management announced Tuesday.

Cold drinks and light refreshments are available at the Ashland cooling center. Ashland.news photo by Cameron Aalto

Highs for Ashland are forecast to be 106, 103, 97 and 95 for Monday through Thursday, respectively.

During the hours in which the center is not open, Sacks recommends that individuals “drink a lot, stay hydrated, replace electrolytes, and stay out of the sun.” 

Shelter volunteer orientation
The severe weather shelter relies on volunteers to remain operational. If you are interested in volunteering, reach out to volunteer coordinator Avram Sacks at avramsacks@gmail.com or 541-220-7307, or attend a volunteer orientation from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, at the Ashland severe weather emergency shelter, 2200 Ashland St.

The Ashland Public Library at 410 Siskiyou Blvd., is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The cooling center is in need of volunteers, food and drinks. The center will host an orientation for prospective volunteers from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 9. While smoke has not hit Southern Oregon yet, the center is preparing for the typical smoke season and is looking for volunteers that can spend the night in case a smoke shelter is opened. To volunteer, contact Sacks. 

The best way for the community to support the cooling center, Sacks said, is to “make donations … everything that you see here has been donated. You know, lemonade, juice, waters, food, snacks, watermelons, orange slices, grapes — anything to help hydrate people.”

Asked about his experience at the cooling center, Ashland resident Omar “Shake” Sheikh said that “the air conditioning works great around here, the (volunteers) give us a plentitude of food and drinks.” 

He describes his experience as “positive, without a doubt,” and adds, “I was just thinking, it’d be nice to have hot food, but, you know — probably not in this weather, so no negative comment in that regard. It’s pretty clean, there’s more than enough seats, there’s more than enough tables, they even have a sleeping area for us. So, I mean, you know, from a services standpoint, you have everything you need for a long afternoon out of the (sun). We’re pretty well taken care of.

“Overall, on a scale of 1-10, I’d give this place an 8.75.” When asked what would make the center better, he says, “above and beyond food, (it’s) a bit silly, but you know – well actually, some of these (freezer bags) would be good. Yeah, take a couple of the waters, and instead of getting them boiling hot, you know (…) it’d keep them cool for hours.” 

Ashland.news intern Cameron Aalto is a recent graduate of Southern Oregon University. Email him at aaltoc@sou.edu.

July 8: Cooling center hours and days updated.

July 9: Cooling center hours and days updated.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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