"It's killing us": Chattanooga homeless population trying to beat the heat in deadly temps

Image: (WTVC)

As temperatures reach nearly triple digits, people in Chattanooga say they're just trying to beat the heat on the street.

Donny Faries has been homeless for nearly five years.

"It's killing us," Faries said. "You just find shade. You just got to find shade by a tree and just lay down and sweat."

At last count, an estimated 700 people are living homeless in the Chattanooga area. "You just beg and hope for mercy," Faries said. "It's almost to the point where you'd rather be locked up in jail or in prison just to get the air condition and get fed."

Most people roam for a place to just cool down. "All day in the hot sun, it's no fun at all," Makala Sparks, who's living homeless said.

"The library still stays open till about 7 p.m., but when I come out of the library, it is what it is," Garry Owens, who's living homeless said.

Kevin Brown says, "I just survive. I just try to survive."

David Costellow is the community engagement director at the Community Kitchen- an organization dedicated to helping the homeless. "We tend to see a spike," Costellow said. Since June, he says they've served 34,588 meals and sheltered 35 families including 70 children.

"There aren't a lot of places they can go during the day because a lot of our shelters in town are just overnight shelters," Costellow said.

But, during the day is when those scorching temperatures hit and he says they've been feeling the crunch.

"We just try to encourage people to take care of themselves physically, but also from a mental perspective too, to take care of yourself," Costellow said. "We're here to help,"

Community Kitchen and others are encouraging those who can, to get inside. The organization is asking for donations, water, and spreading the word about resources available.

The salvation army says they're extending their hours on day shelters available equipped with air conditioning and hydration stations. Day shelters are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Salvation Army cooling centers:

  • 822 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN
  • 1019 North Moore Road, Chattanooga, TN
  • 2140 East 28th Street, Chattanooga, TN
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