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Montgomery County social service workers scramble to help people living outside in dangerous heat

Social service workers in Montgomery County make preps to help unhoused people during heat wave
Social service workers in Montgomery County make preps to help unhoused people during heat wave 01:47

NORRISTOWN, Pa. -- Several social service workers were doing all they could ahead of a sweltering weekend to keep people experiencing homelessness safe while facing excessive heat.

"We're dropping off water and ice," announced Katie Mariano, street outreach director for Access Services.

She spent Friday morning delivering ice and cold water to a Norristown encampment, for people living outside. Mariano had been with the group for three years and said she was getting more worried about the extreme heat.

"So I'll say, it's definitely getting hotter, especially when you're out here with the pavement," Mariano said. "The pavement is heating up, even when the sun's cooling down. That pavement is staying really hot. So, it's really hard to get cool."

She said the shade at the encampment would help keep the water cold, but this was not her only stop.

"So, we will be back out again maybe by the end of the day," Assistant Outreach Director Christopher Lenkowski said.

Air quality alert in Philadelphia Friday as hot weather lingers 02:55

Along with Mariano, he headed to a second encampment. Lenkowski said the second encampment was more dangerous because it was taking a direct hit from the hot sun.

"There's not much relief from any of the heat," Lenkowski said. "You can see we are trying to find any little corner to pack the cooler into it so the sun doesn't get to it."

To cool off, hundreds of residents and people experiencing homelessness can also go to the Norristown Hospitality Center, where the staff is ready to work extra hours.

Executive Director Sunanda Charles spent Friday checking supplies. That was because she said the center, normally closed on the weekends, would be open this Saturday and Sunday.

"The other day, we had a staff meeting and I said, 'Who is willing to come and extra hours?' Everybody was like, 'I'll come,'" Charles said.

She hoped those extra hours would help save lives.

"That is what our mission is about. It is the core of our mission," Charles said.

The Norristown Hospitality Center and Access Services need donations to help people survive this heat. Leaders said they were desperately in need of water for the summer.

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