How one city came together to protect its vulnerable from weekend heat wave

As it became clear a dangerous wave of record-setting heat was coming to the region last weekend, Aberdeen Mayor Pete Schave and numerous partners came together in short order to open a cold weather shelter for the most vulnerable people in the city.

At the June 23 City Council meeting, Schave told the council he’d been in contact with the Coastal Community Action Program (CCAP) about opening the Aberdeen Senior Center. He said he could get a key to the center, operated by the Elma Senior Center, but staffing was the issue. Neither CCAP or the Elma Senior Center had available people to run the place.

Schave told the council the high heat event was so unusual that nobody really had any plans in place for it, like some counties and cities have in place for cold weather shelters in the winter.

Schave said later, “I called CCAP last Thursday morning (June 17) to ask about the Senior Center for a cold weather shelter for the weekend heat wave. They said let’s go take a look.”

He met CCAP Executive Director Craig Dublanko and CFO Lucy Machowek at the facility on West Market Street, “went down there right away and the plans developed quickly,” said Schave.

Schave continued, “We cleaned up some of the remodel dust and set up tables and chairs, checked the air conditioner and were ready to go. Then the Feed the Hungry group called and said they would bring water and snacks. Great! Then the Moore Wright Group said they had however much water we could need. I thought one pallet would be good.”

CCAP opened up the kitchen so there was access to it walk-in fridge.

“While we were packing water in, Coastal Harvest stopped with more water,” said Schave. “So we had plenty of ice cold water, snacks, and sandwiches. We were open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,” when temperatures were at historic highs.

“I would like to thank CCAP, the Aberdeen Senior Center, Feed the Hungry Group, Coastal Harvest, Moore Wright Group, and all the great volunteers for stepping up to help in such short notice,” said Schave. “It is wonderful the way this community helps each other during a crisis like this.”