Students, repairmen beating the heat

Monday, August 20, 2007

Though thunderstorms late Thursday brought slightly cooler temperatures that lasted through the weekend, Cape Girardeau is getting closer to setting a record for consecutive days with temperatures above 90 degrees.

The record is 28 days set in 1983. On Sunday, temperatures reached 91 degrees at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, the 25th straight day above 90 degrees from a heat wave stretching back to July.

Temperatures are expected to linger in the 90s for next week, according to the National Weather Service.

Air conditioning contractors have been working overtime this week to keep up with repair requests. At ABC Heating and Cooling, which handles residential and commercial jobs, workers have been taking on up to 50-hour workweeks to juggle assignments, said owner Amos Hudson.

They have been receiving around a dozen requests for repairs each day, said Hudson, whose company consists of about a dozen service trucks, fully stocked with cool water, four full-time repairmen and two part-time service workers.

Despite the heavy volume, ABC has managed to complete most of the jobs no later than the following day, Hudson said.

Hudson does not allow his workers to take on more than 10 extra hours of overtime, and instructs them to take frequent breaks if they become fatigued by the heat, or to request a replacement if it gets to be too much, he said.

Extreme Heating and Cooling, 1741 Kingshighway, where there is only one service technician, receives anywhere from 10 to 15 calls per day requesting repairs, owner Rodney Lacy said.

Heat-related death

The heat wave has claimed one fatality. On Wednesday, Analita Castellano, 81, of Indiana, died at Trail of Tears State Park where she had been camping with family.

The elderly woman died Wednesday afternoon while being taken to the hospital. According to witnesses, she had been lying in the shade resting with a battery-operated fan going, said John Clifton, Cape Gir-ardeau County Coroner. The death has been ruled accidental and heat-related, Clifton said.

Cool on campus

As students returned to Southeast Missouri State University, moving in during Thursday's blistering heat, residents of Dearmont Hall finally enjoyed the new air conditioning units.

"It's not a perfect situation, but it's workable," said Bruce Skinner, resident director.

D-Wing has had the new unit up and running since Thursday. One student, Ashley Pate, said she'd been hiding at a friend's house until the air conditioner kicked in. "I'm actually wearing long pants!" she said when asked if there was a noticeable difference.

Most students were utilizing at least two floor fans in their dorm rooms, even with the new system, strategically positioning them to get the most out of the cool air flow, explained Shana Gemoulis, a resident adviser on D-Wing.

"I slept a lot better last night," Gemoulis said.

Ashleigh Day, a resident of C-Wing who "had yet to experience" the new cooling unit, said she'd been relying on four fans to stay cool.

"It just moves around the hot air," Day said.

The units in C-Wing began working late Friday afternoon.

Despite sweltering temperatures on move-in day, Skinner said they had no students suffer from heat exhaustion that he was made aware of, though he mentioned they "looked pretty exhausted" during the evening orientation.

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