Homeless population try to stay cool during extreme heat in Eastern Iowa

The Southwest section of La Porte City has out of power, and it's not expected to be back any time soon.
Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 10:27 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Sandy Minnaert said she was “multi-miserable” during the heat Monday afternoon.

Minnaert spent the day outside when Eastern Iowa is under an Excessive Heat Warning that will last until at least Wednesday night. However, she was keeping her spirits up.

“Hey, six feet above, that’s the only way to be, right? Always can be worse,” she said.

Minnaert said, after a day outside in Greene Square Park outside the Cedar Rapids Library, she would be sleeping outdoors, too.

However, the overnight hours won’t offer much relief this week.

According to Dr. Benjamin Wilkinson, a resident at St. Luke’s Hospital, spending a night outdoors in relatively high heat, after a day in extreme heat, is not advisable. When TV9 asked if air conditioning was a need right now, Wilkinson said, “I think that is a need in this setting. When heat is this high, people are at very high risk for developing this severe heat illness.”

Wilkinson added these temps can wreak havoc on the human body.

“It can dehydrate you by making you sweat, and you lose a lot of water through that. And dehydration can make your blood pressure go low” He added, “In severe cases, it can actually lead to organ damage or brain damage.”

Minnaert is working to get out of the heat and under a roof, but Linn County doesn’t have an overflow shelter in the summer.

“I call the shelter every morning. I’m waiting for this blonde lady over here, Rapid Re-Housing. I’m going to sign up with that. I’m working with Willis Dady. So all the resources that I have out there for me, I’m utilizing,” she said.

For right now, Minnaert is making do with shade, ice water from the library, and spending a few minutes “cruising” around in the a/c of a few different buildings anything to keep cool.

“You just have to kind of think outside the box,” she said.