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Texas Reels Under Triple-Digit Temperatures, Drought-Like Conditions; Salvation Army Spokeswoman Discusses Emergency Cooling Efforts

Aired July 18, 2000 - 2:08 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Still no relief in sight for much of the southern U.S. In the midst of a brutal summer heat wave, Texas has been especially hard-hit with triple-digit temperatures and drought-like conditions.

CNN's Tony Clark is in Dallas with the latest trying to keep cool.

Hi, Tony.

TONY CLARK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi. You know, I checked a few minutes ago and temperature downtown Dallas was 95. But officials expect it to top the century mark and that's why county officials have declared an emergency health alert. That goes into effect any time there are four consecutive days of 100-degree plus temperatures.

For people who have been working outside over the past few days, today included, it is -- becomes a potentially dangerous situation under the emergency health alert. Health officials are recommending that especially the elderly and children not spend more than half an hour outside because of the potential to become dehydrated and suffer other heat-related illnesses.

You know, in Dallas alone there have been two heat-related deaths so far this year; in Houston, four heat-related deaths.

But for some, like construction worker Tony Moore, this heat is something they just learn to take in stride.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY MOORE, CONSTRUCTION WORKER: As long as the wind is blowing, you know, it's fine, you know. But it can get bad if, you know, there's no wind blowing and you're right in the middle of it.

CLARK: Kind of a typical Texas summer?

MOORE: Yes, yes. Born and raised here so I'm used to it. It's not that bad.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CLARK: Here at the Salvation Army in Dallas, this is one of the facilities that's been declared an emergency cooling facility, a place where people can come because of the heat and get inside and either be able to cool down because the air conditioning here, or, if they are eligible, pick up a fan to take home with them.

Joanna Norris is the executive director here.

What's the response been.

JOANNA NORRIS, SALVATION ARMY: Been terrific. We are asking the public to help us provide us some fans because we've used up our supply. Elderly, the children who have special needs need those fans to keep them cool as possible in their homes. And some of them don't have the air conditioning.

CLARK: And do you have many people that come here and spend the afternoon or evening to avoid the heat?

NORRIS: Yes, we do, and more so in the evening. They start coming in around 3:00 when it gets the hottest. They come in and we even had to put 40 on cots last night in our facility to accommodate those people who are coming out of the heat to stay in our shelter.

CLARK: And with the forecast expected to be a continued 100- degree-plus, the problem is not going away.

NORRIS: No, it isn't. And it, of course, as it gets out in the community, the needs for fans being available, we expect that will pick up. We have about 50 people waiting in the waiting room now to see a case worker to determine their need for eligibility, which is that they don't have a fan, they don't have air conditioning, or there are special health needs for the elderly or the young children.

CLARK: Ms. Norris, thank you very much.

The forecast for this weekend, continued 100-degree temperatures expected through the weekend. And perhaps even a worse note: The climate Prediction Center says that next summer it's expected to be just as dry and just as hot.

Tony Clark, CNN, Dallas.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Got to feel for those folks that don't have air conditioning.

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