Searing summer days: Cape Girardeau tries to stay cool during heat warning that expires tonight

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Laurie Hamblin plays with her dog Mississippi in the Civil War Memorial Fountain behind the Common Pleas Courthouse Monday, July 11, 2011, in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)

Cape Girardeau sweated out one of the hottest days of the year Monday, and little relief is expected for today.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory Sunday and then raised it to an excessive heat warning Monday afternoon. The warning is effective until 9 p.m. today.

"We issue an excessive heat warning when we expect the heat index to reach 110 degrees or higher," said Jim Packett, a meteorologist with the weather service in Paducah, Ky.

Temperatures hit 99 degrees Monday, with the heat index soaring up to 113 degrees.

According to the Weather Channel's website, Monday's temperature was four degrees short of Cape Girardeau's record high for July 11 -- 103 degrees in 1966.

The Salvation Army at 701 Good Hope St. opened its doors as a cooling center from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and will continue to serve as a cooling center today. Maj. Ben Still well and his wife placed chairs around the perimeter of the room for people to cool off and relax.

"We supply ice water and a drink mix. Nobody stayed a long period of time, but they were able to come in, drink, get hydrated and cooled off," Stillwell said.

The Salvation Army is also giving out fans to help keep homes cool.

"We've given out over 15 so far today," Salvation Army case manager Tina Rodgers said around 1 p.m. Monday. "If somebody needs a fan, they fill out an application and provide us with a photo ID. Right now it's one fan per household."

Shirley Ware applied for and received a fan Monday.

"I was recently diagnosed as diabetic, and the medicine and heat have been making me sick to my stomach," Ware said.

Stillwell has been distributing fans for about five years and has not seen a need for fans as large as this year.

"We had requests for fans in April, requests never start that early. We've given out over 127 fans, it's just been so horrendously hot," Stillwell said.

Rodgers said new or used fans can be donated by bringing them to the Salvation Army office. Those who need a fan should call 335-7000.

Dorothy Schlimmer took her son, Matthew, to Cape West 14 Cine to escape the heat. They enjoyed sodas and air conditioning inside while watching "Cars 2."

"It's too hot outside. I only let him play outside during the morning and evening when days get like this," Schlimmer said. "We were happy to be inside at the movies today."

The theater offers all adult matinee tickets for child prices when a heat advisory is in effect. The special pricing is available for any movie starting before 4 p.m. on any day with a heat advisory or warning, including weekends.

Many families put on their suits and headed to Cape Splash Family Aquatic Center to take refuge from the heat. Penny Williams, recreation division manager for Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation, said numbers hit a combined total of 3,212 total over the weekend.

Charlotte Craig, director of the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, urged those who must be outside during the extreme heat to seek shade and drink plenty of water. She recommends investing in a cooling headband that can be dipped in water and worn for 20 minutes, reducing overall body temperature.

"The most important thing is to believe the advisory. Pay attention. Don't ignore it," Craig said. "People have a tendency to become complacent with heat advisories and warning. Problem is that with the heat, if you don't pay attention, even if you're young and healthy, you can end up in trouble."

rpayne@semissourian.com

388-3644

Pertinent address:

701 Good Hope St., Cape Girardeau MO

Shirley Ware and her granddaughter, Ayanna Patton, pick up a free electric fan from Tina Rodgers, case manager at the Salvation Army, Monday, July 11, 2011. (Fred Lynch)

1565 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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