ELKHART— As temperatures are expected to top 90 degrees over the next few days, local organizations in Elkhart County are opening cooling centers to allow residents the opportunity to beat the impending heat.
The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch for Elkhart County the next few days. Temperatures predicted for Thursday, Friday and Saturday are in the low to mid-90s, with heat indices from around 105 to 110 degrees. Temperatures will only drop into the 70s at night with continued high humidity.
In response, the city of Elkhart has designated the Elkhart Central Fire Station as a cooling center for those in need of air-conditioning.
The fire station is located at 500 East St. in downtown Elkhart and will be available to residents in need during normal business hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Safety is a function of the fire department, and anytime someone needs to get in and out of the hot or cold, that resource is available to them,” said Courtney Bearsch, director of communications for the city.
For overnight accommodations, the City of Elkhart is encouraging people to utilize facilities such as the Faith Mission of Elkhart
“Our office made a contact with Faith Mission this week and were advised that their Heat Amnesty program will be available to allow non-residents to have shelter during the day and overnight when the temperature rises above 90 degrees,” Bearsch said.
“We are fortunate in our community that we have partners who are willing to step up and help the city and its residents when needed,” she continued.
Attempts to reach Faith Mission of Elkhart for comment were not successful.
In Goshen, the city announced Wednesday that three cooling centers have been set up for the community.
Anyone in need of an air-conditioned room during the day may go to any of the following locations to escape the heat:
• The Salvation Army, 1013 N. Main St., entering through the south entrance. The building will be open to the public Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Maple City Chapel, 2015 Lincolnway East. The center will be open to the public from Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Goshen Public Library, 601 S. 5th St. The building will be open Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In addition, entrance into the City’s Shanklin Park Pool (411 W. Plymouth Ave.) will be free Thursday through Saturday. Pool hours will be as follows and patrons must be in appropriate swim attire to be admitted into the facility.
• Thursday and Friday – 12 noon to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.
• Saturday – noon to 7 p.m.
“I appreciate the support from our partnering organizations in providing shelter during the extreme heat. I strongly encourage anyone in need to take advantage of these community resources,” Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman said in a statement. “I would also urge the community to look out for one another. Please check on your loved ones, neighbors and friends, especially the elderly, and take them to a shelter if they need it.”
The combination of extremely hot temperatures and high humidity will lead to an increased risk of heat-related stress and illness. The public is advised to drink plenty of water, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun and check on relatives and neighbors, the news release states.