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Kids play at the spitting fountains in front of a brick mural at Millennium Park during a heat wave in Chicago.

This week, the city established six cooling centers for those who need to escape the dangerous temperatures.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Chicago shuts down cooling centers on fourth day of heat wave

A critic calls City Hall’s decision “extremely alarming” as temperatures are expected to exceed 90 degrees again.

The city cited the Juneteenth holiday for closing all but one cooling center for vulnerable residents Wednesday even as temperatures are expected to exceed 90 degrees for the fourth-straight day.

“It’s extremely alarming that we are shrinking our cooling centers in the middle of a heat wave,” said state Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, who represents Chicago’s Northwest Side and advocates for the homeless and other vulnerable populations.

This week, the city established six cooling centers for those who need to escape the dangerous temperatures because they don’t have air conditioning and are susceptible to heat-induced illness.

On Wednesday, only one of those centers, the Garfield Community Service Center at 10 S. Kedzie Ave., will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. despite another forecast for an extremely hot day.

City officials have also advised people to seek shelter at Chicago’s more than 80 public libraries this week, but all those locations will be closed for the day as well.

Some Chicago Park District buildings will have limited hours during the day as well as some park pools, which just opened for the season Monday.

The Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E. Washington will provide a cooling area from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the city said.

A city spokeswoman said the National Weather Service had not issued an excessive heat warning as of early evening Tuesday that would set in motion an emergency response to the heat.

Should the National Weather Service issue an extreme heat warning, the city’s emergency response plan is activated, said Mary May, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Jake Petr, a meteorologist for the weather service, confirmed that such a warning had not been issued. However, the heat index has been hovering very close to numbers that would prompt a pronouncement.

The heat index measures a combination of heat and humidity that rises above 100 degrees for three straight days. Since Sunday that daily index has been 98, 98 and 97, Petr said.

“It doesn’t take ‘extreme heat’ to negatively impact many vulnerable populations,” said Monica Dillon, a registered nurse and member of the Northwest Side Homeless Outreach Volunteers, citing older residents, those with medical conditions, pregnant women and others. “These populations are less able to regulate body temperatures and are more susceptible to heat stress, illness and even death.”

The Latest
Nearly 35,000 ComEd customers are still without power Wednesday evening and Interstate 55 remains closed in both directions near Channahon. A high-wind advisory is in effect for Wednesday evening.
The National Weather Service confirmed that 11 tornadoes touched down Monday night and six on Sunday. Interstate 55 remains closed in both directions near Channahon after power lines fell on the highway.
Forecasters say ‘torrential rains’ are likely. Chicago is under a flood watch. The storm could drop 2 to 3 inches of rain and bring winds in excess of 58 mph. Another storm system could move through the region Monday evening.
On the fourth day of the heat wave last week, city officials closed cooling centers and libraries where those without air conditioning had sought relief.
The last time Chicago saw a seven-day streak of low temperatures above 70 degrees was in 1933, just months after Franklin D. Roosevelt was first sworn in as president, and Chicago was hosting its last world’s fair.