Now that the dangerous heat wave has broken, I want to update the community on what we did and what we learned. And I want to thank everyone who worked hard to help save lives.
City employees, social service agencies, non-profits, and volunteers were dedicated and tireless. They worked long hours and on weekends to help their neighbors and constituents cope with the extended heat wave.
During the past several days, the City purchased and installed 330 air conditioners and 225 fans. Every low-income, at risk person who asked for and needed an air conditioner or a fan got one, thanks in part to the Missouri Foundation for Health which issued an emergency grant for $35,000. The City set aside another $10,000 to help some seniors pay their utility bills.
The City also made more than 11,000 automated calls to low-income seniors to pass along advice and information about how to stay safe in the heat. And Health Department nurses followed up with visits to the homes of nearly 100 people who went to hospitals because of the heat.
In all, the City of St. Louis and its partners checked on the safety of more than 5,000 at-risk City residents, mostly seniors.
Nevertheless, five City residents still died of heat-related causes. None of them was on our list of at-risk residents.
So, certainly, we need a better list.
I have asked the City’s Human Services Department to lead the effort to expand the list so that we can check on more people when the weather turns very hot or very cold.
The best source of new names for the list is you.
Who should be on the list? Let me tell you about the people who died. All of them were elderly. All but one of them lived alone. No friend or neighbor was checking up on any of them on a regular basis. Most of them did not have working air conditioners. If you have a relative, friend, or a neighbor who you think might need help during extreme weather, tell us now. Use the United Way's number, 800-427-4626. If you put someone on the list, we will check up on them.
The heat wave would have been much worse if not for the hard work and generosity of lots of people - professionals and volunteers. They saved lives.