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Unhoused people are bearing the brunt of extreme heat in Palm Springs

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

All that heat is creating unsafe conditions for people and animals. And we're going to get some snapshots now. We'll start in Palm Springs, Calif., where this weekend's highs are around 120 degrees. That makes it very hard to meet the need of unsheltered residents.

MADISON AUMENT, BYLINE: This is Madison Aument with KVCR in San Bernardino. In the resort town of Palm Springs, about an hour east, the sun is normally the draw. But this weekend it's turned into a danger, especially for the city's some 350 homeless people. Many live outdoors, and the iconic palm trees and cacti don't provide much shade.

ROMAN RUIZ: Many of the individuals are finding refuge under freeway overpasses or there is a - like, a wash area that kind of goes through the city, and that's the area that's kind of most covered with many of the bushes and the shaded trees and things like that.

AUMENT: Roman Ruiz coordinates the city's homelessness response. The wash area he mentioned is like a dry creek bed. He says that during the day, the city has space for people to cool off.

RUIZ: We have these few cooling centers that we're using within the city, and they're giving out water and snacks and allowing people to come in and stay for the day.

AUMENT: But at night, the cooling centers close. And even after the sun goes down, temperatures have been hovering in the high 80s. The city has only 25 shelter beds. While they hope to make 50 more available, they won't be ready until next year. Lack of shelter makes people particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Dr. Gemma Kim runs a mobile health clinic in Palm Springs and has been treating unhoused patients.

GEMMA KIM: We're seeing, like, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, cramping because of the heat. It's really all due to dehydration.

AUMENT: Meanwhile, the high heat is supposed to peak this weekend, but temperatures are forecast to stay above 110 through this week. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Madison Aument