DHS officials pushing to get more people to use cooling centers

Cooling center open overnight

DHS officials pushing to get more people

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif.- - As temperatures soar into the 110s, Desert Hot Springs officials are making a push to get more people to utilize cooling center facilities.

Just a couple of nights ago, there were reportedly only four people at the Desert Hot Springs cooling center at the Word of Life Fellowship Center, a location that is capable of holding up to 25 people. The center is fully stocked with resources to help people deal with the heat.

"Now that we have all the pieces in place, the real push will be to get bodies off the streets and off the parks and to get them safe," said Tom Cox, program director for the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission.

Complete list of Riverside County cooling centers

The Word of Life Fellowship cooling center, located 64565 Pierson Boulevard, is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., offering overnight respite from the heat.

"I've never seen this before. They've never offered this help, but I think it's great especially in Desert Hot Springs," said Cary Hannaford, a cooling center visitor.

The Desert Hot Springs Police Department is working alongside CVRM to get people inside.

"My team is going to go out next week. We're going to do outreach. We're gonna bring up the vans. We're gonna go to the encampments. We're going to go to where the homeless community is," said Mark McGowan, the manager of the cooling center.

Cooling center officials said they will be putting up flyers in the community and DHSPD Chief Jim Henson says his department will be looking for people on the streets in need of transportation to the center itself.

"Unfortunately, you find dead bodies out every once in a while in the desert. It could be exposure-related it could be a medical issue," Henson said.

With an excessive heat warning expected to last throughout the weekend, it's more important than ever for those in need to take advantage of the resources available at local cooling centers.

"It's easy for someone to get dehydrated and lay down in the desert and pass away," Henson said.

The center has portable showers on site in addition to restrooms. They have cots inside, as well as cool beverages and snacks for anyone in need.

"We have toiletries, clothing and a whole lot of hope," McGowan said.

CVRM says that they are in need of donations from the public to keep these centers up and running, this includes things like towels, blankets, toiletries, snacks, and clothing. You can drop off any of those items at CVRM or any of the cooling center locations to help. 

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