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Heatwave poses risk for elderly community

People Attempting To Help (PATH) will begin distributing free fans on Monday, June 21.

TYLER, Texas — It’s official — East Texas is experiencing a heatwave as temperatures soar higher than 95 degrees for the fourth day in a row. This heat can be very dangerous for vulnerable populations, including the elderly.

Mark Richardson with the organization People Attempting To Help (PATH) said the elderly community is being exposed to unsafe temperatures this season — not to mention those with no place to call home.

“It's horrible, it's devastating. It's life-threatening," Richardson said. "We see more and more of that in our society. Elderly people on fixed income and they can't afford to live anywhere and then they end up on the streets. It just snowballs on them.”

Keeping cool is a necessity this summer and air conditioning is a very common way to do so, but some people don’t own one. Many others who do own one can’t afford to turn it on.

PATH aims to alleviate some of that stress on Monday when they begin distributing free fans, first-come, first-served.

“They just come in, they'll meet with our receptionist, and go through the pantry if they'd like to. Or they can just pick up a fan if they want,” Richardson said. 

There are also cooling centers available. PATH is one. The Salvation Army is another. If anyone is homebound or otherwise unable to make it to one of these facilities, there's help for that too. The Salvation Army says they’re committed to getting you to them whether that means rallying the troops or even calling on the police department to give you a ride. The Tyler Street Team is another resource for rides. 

Callynth Finney, leader of Tyler Street Team, said, “If we see somebody struggling outside on the side of the road ... there will be somebody available.”

Check on your neighbors when you can — especially your elderly ones who may not have the ability to navigate technology and/or find help themselves. 

PATH is also continuing to offer utility assistance to help combat higher bills this summer. You can apply through their website here. 

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