Hot enough for ya?
As you may know there has been a little ‘heat’ in the city and highlighted in the Sun Chronicle over events that took place surrounding the opening of a cooling location at LaSalette Shrine a few weekends back. Let’s have a chat about that ..shall we??
In the days leading into the weekend of July 20th & 21st I started receiving phone calls from residents who were concerned about the heat predictions for the coming weekend. Every news outlet was highlighting how dangerous the extreme heat levels would be. Residents were concerned and inquiring if the city would be opening a cooling location similar to our surrounding communities. Mansfield, North Attleboro and Seekonk all opened cooling centers.
Several Councilors reached out to the Mayor to ask him what his plan was. The mayor stated that unless there was a power outage the city would not be opening the emergency cooling center. He stated that he consulted with department heads and the opinion was that people should shelter in place. If it got too hot and they needed to seek relief they could go to the library or Emerald Square Mall. He referred us to his facebook page and told us people could look there for information.
That’s how the Mayor cares for the most vulnerable people in our city? Hey you, sweating at home…Go check out my Facebook, then hit the mall? The circumstances that the residents of Attleboro were facing clearly didn’t matter to him. He took Friday off and disappeared for the weekend. But not without first reminding everyone to never leave a dog in a hot car, or walk them on hot pavement (seriously.. Don’t do that). I can only ask: What are his priorities?
So who are those most in need in our community?
Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown that death rates rise in association with extremely hot weather. Studies confirm that the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions are sensitive to extreme heat. Elderly people are most affected. The impact on death rates due to heart failure, arrhythmia and stroke are particularly striking.
But they should go to the mall?
The Mayor effectively pawned our city residents, those most vulnerable, those we are expected to protect, off on another community, without any safeguards in place to provide simple things like breathable cool air, a bottle of water and a snack. And most certainly took no action to address the larger concern of those who may require medical attention.
Due to his lack of leadership, and actively turning his back on our residents, members of the Council and our State Delegation as well as just regular good old citizens took action. We were aware of the effects of temperature on the health and well being of our residents. We needed to do something. .
La Salette graciously opened their doors. We got the word out. We chose to volunteer our time and resources on private property for the good of our community. A need was identified, and we fulfilled that need. I am proud of how we rallied. How we provided a compassionate and caring service. We showed the residents that we have their back.
The city and its residents should never be in a place where we have to be reactionary. Everyone knew it was going to be unusually hot days before. We need to have a consistent plan in place. If the mayor feels that we shouldn’t open municipal buildings then we need to create relationships with organizations in our community that can serve the needs of our city residents. These collaborations are needed.
Communication is also key. Making people aware of what to do in these so called “non emergencies”, but very risky circumstances is paramount. We need to provide Reverse 911 calls, postings on the city website, a scroll on local cable access. And yes.. Social media as well.
The city was never at risk of being sued or liable. This was no different than inviting a friend over to cool down in your house on a hot day. This is what being compassionate and thoughtful looks like. This is what I mean when I say, #nicematters.