County gets creative with cooling centers

Family Dollar serves as cooling center for Ivanhoe residents to find relief from extreme heat and smokey air

In year’s past, Ivanhoe residents could always escape the heat by heading to the county library branch. Unfortunately, libraries were among the first places to close during the pandemic.

The coronavirus has put pressure on county officials to find new ways to help residents find relief from sweltering summers, especially those living in outdated structures without air conditioning and insulation. One way the county as been able to offer cooling centers is by partnering with private businesses.

In Ivanhoe, Family Dollar has offered to serve as a cooling center as long as those seeking refuge from sun rays are willing to follow their in-store policy of wearing a face mask, maintain social distancing and at all times. Customers will not be required to make a purchase to use the store as a cooling center.

The Family Dollar/Dollar Tree company is also making stores in other unincorporated Tulare County communities cooling centers, including Strathmore and Orosi. Other large retail centers,

such as Wal Mart, Target, Lowes, and Home Depot have stepped up as cooling centers in Visalia, Porterville and Dinuba. In nearby Woodlake, the City Hall lobby is operating as a cooling center. People must wear a mask and should socially distance while in all facilities.

The Visalia Transit Center will be using their buses as a cooling center for residents. Only every other seat will be available, rides will typically begin around 9 a.m. and people can ride as long as they would like. This will only happen on days determined by the Visalia Fire Department, which will usually be when the temperature is above 104 degrees. On those days, cooling center signs will be posted outside of the transit center and resident can call ahead to confirm.

For a complete list of cooling centers in Tulare County, visit https://tularecounty.ca.gov/emergencies/index.cfm/cooling-centers/.

For residents who need assistance with their utility bills during the hot summer months, the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency is encouraging residents to contact United Way by dialing 211. United Way offers utility assistance programs to help residents who are experiencing financial hardship during the ongoing pandemic.

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