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East Preston, N.S., family helps deliver crates of water during extreme heat wave

Click to play video: 'East Preston family helps homeless people survive the heat wave'
East Preston family helps homeless people survive the heat wave
While most people are excited about hot weather, it can be dangerous for those without a reliable place to stay inside. Alexa MacLean reports an East Preston family is lending a helping hand to those in need. – Jun 19, 2020

With temperatures soaring into the high 20s and 30s, Environment Canada is issuing heat warnings in Nova Scotia.

This extreme weather warning carries health risks for vulnerable people who may not be able to find shelter from the heat, due to challenges accessing affordable housing.

“When you turn around and look at issues like the extreme heat; what if you don’t have a home? And really, the message is, we shouldn’t have homeless people who are outside in any weather,” said Kathy McNab, the communications officer with Adsum for Women & Children in Halifax.

For the past three summers, Adsum has helped coordinate an extreme weather program that distributes resources to people and organizations in need.

READ MORE: The New Reality: Where do you go when the bathrooms are closed?

These resources range from bottled water to sunscreen and baseball caps to keep people protected from harmful UV rays.

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McNab says it’s a community effort to deliver the service. Adsum helps support about 12 organizations with the deliveries of heat relief resources.

“This came on very quickly. We literally went from the heat on last week, to extreme heat this week and very high temperatures that we don’t even see in the middle of summer, often and had to react very quickly in the middle of dealing with the pandemic,” McNab said.

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The collaborative effort helps support people in vulnerable situations during extreme weather events.

The demand for these services surged last summer, leading to an East Preston family helping to deliver some of the crates of water.

John Slawter and his two grandsons are now regular helpers of the cause.

“Well, it’s a good feeling to be able to help people, not knowing that they needed it and then all of a sudden there you are, helping out and they’re very appreciative of everything you do, they can’t thank you enough,” Slawter said.

Often times, the Slawter’s load up their truck during the early morning hours to ensure place are stocked with bottled water before the high temperatures hit.

The work has led one of Slawter’s grandsons to consider pursuing a career in social work.

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“So, that’s one of the big reasons why he wants to pursue that career,” Slawter said.

The public libraries are typically a place where people can find shelter from the weather but the ones in the Halifax Regional Municipality remain closed due to the pandemic.

READ MORE: 29-year-old N.S. man says pandemic support for the homeless ‘shows people care’

While plans to reopen are in the works, some temporary resources have been installed to help people in need.

The municipality has partnered with the library to temporarily install portable toilets and a handwashing station at the back of the Central Library. The portable toilets are accessible for eight hours during the day.

Paul O’Regan Hall inside of the Halifax Central Library will also be open during limited hours for people to cool off during heat warnings. Public health guidelines can be safely enforced with up to 25 people at a time.

Halifax Central Library
Paul O’Regan Hall inside of the Halifax Central Library will be open to the public as a cooling station on days when there are heat warnings. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

There is also an initiative underway to establish water stations at different libraries. This is done in partnership with Halifax Water and as of now, there is a water station available at the Keshen Goodman Public Library in Halifax.

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These water stations are under consideration for expansion.

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