We are a city whose geography makes extended heat, extreme cold, severe storms, and flash flooding all possible, sometimes in consecutive months. During the past decade, city departments have responded to weather emergencies in an organized, thorough, and professional manner. But, I think we can do better.
Today, I announced that a senior staffer in the Department of Health will head a year-around, severe weather public health protection program and will coordinate the activities of the Department of Public Safety, the Human Services Department, the Housing Authority, the Fire Department, and other city and non-profit agencies. In addition, all relevant city departments will work with the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging to add individuals to the Functional Needs Registry and to keep it updated so that the Department of Health has a more complete database of people whose underlying physical or mental health conditions make them particularly vulnerable to weather extremes.
The Department of Public Safety has already been instructed raise public awareness of dangers of tornadoes, high winds, and thunderstorms at work and during special events.
I have also asked the Department of Health to make a recommendation on whether the Board of Aldermen should be asked to consider an ordinance requiring landlords to provide and maintain window units or central air in rented residential properties.
None of these government efforts are intended (or able) to replace the vigilance that we ought to be providing for members of our own families, our friends, and our neighbors. More than anything else, we have a responsibility to look out for each other.