“When a heat wave hit the Pacific Northwest in late June, many cities and residents found themselves facing shockingly high — and lethal — temperatures: up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit in Portland, Oregon, for example. Hundreds of people across the region died.
For many, the safest and most accessible place to escape the heat was also free — the library. Public libraries are increasingly opening their doors as cooling centers as officials develop emergency plans for heat and other extreme weather conditions.
“Libraries are essential,” said the Rev. Vernon K. Walker, senior program manager at Communities Responding to Extreme Weather. […] “Particularly for libraries that tend to be in Black and brown communities, and particularly in libraries that are in inner cities, they are critical, essential and needed,” Walker said.
Studies show that people of color are at higher risk of illness or death than white people. That’s because they often live in hotter areas with less access to air conditioning and a greater likelihood of service disconnections, or in neighborhoods where energy companies sometimes deliberately shut off power to avoid larger disruptions.”[…]
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