Catholic Charities Operates Cooling Centers Amid Pacific Northwest Heat Wave

One cooling center location is in Spokane, Washington
One cooling center location is in Spokane, Washington (photo: Catholic Charities Eastern Washington/Facebook / Catholic Charities Eastern Washington/Facebook via CNA)

Amid an unprecedented heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, local Catholic agencies are working to provide relief for the elderly, disabled and homeless. 

Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington on Monday opened five new cooling shelters in Spokane, set to stay open through Thursday at the earliest. 

The National Weather Service in Spokane announced an excessive heat warning last week and expressed high confidence that temperatures will reach 100 degrees every day until Thursday, The Spokesman-Review reported. On Tuesday, Spokane hit a new heat record of 109 degrees. At least five deaths were attributed to the heat in that city alone, reported The Spokesman on Thursday afternoon.

Catholic Charities spokeswoman Sarah Yerden said daily hours are 10am to 6pm, adding that the shelters may stay open past Thursday if necessary. 

In King County, Washington, where Seattle is located, temperatures soared to 108 degrees on Monday, tying the all-time record set a day before. 

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, located in Seattle, recently shared a list of cooling centers throughout the region. Nativity House, a day center and shelter for the homeless located in nearby Tacoma, requested donations of water on Tuesday, asking the public to drop donations at their facility in the city.  

Portland, Oregon, recorded an all-time heat record of 116 degrees on Monday. Both Portland and Seattle have recorded hundreds of emergency room and urgent care visits for heat-related illness. 

Across the border in Canada, Lytton, British Columbia, hit 117.5 degrees, the highest temperature ever recorded in the country. 

Krista Greig with the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s communications office told CNA that Catholic Charities’ offices throughout the city have been trying to make air conditioning available to the people they serve. 

Register staff added to this report.