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As hurricane threatens East, Oklahoma still sizzles

August 24, 2011 |  5:03 pm

Oklahoma City has several night shelters for the homeless, but it didn’t have an official place to shelter homeless people during the day. At least until this summer.

The broiling heat that has gripped Oklahoma for months prompted the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance to open a daytime shelter before the building was completely finished so homeless residents could escape the searing temperatures. Oklahoma weather 

Across the state, temperatures have hovered in the 90s and near 100 all summer. In Oklahoma City, it was 102 degrees Tuesday, and the mercury was expected to hit 104 Wednesday.

The day shelter was opened last week at the WestTown Homeless Resources Campus in west Oklahoma City. Just days before the opening, officials rushed to get a food service license and other licenses. Offices had little or no furniture, with the phones sitting on the floor.

“We just decided we’re going to open with what we’ve got because of the heat,” said Mike Milner, director of the Oklahoma City Day Shelter.

During its first open day, 80 people took refuge from the heat. Many people walked more than an hour to reach the shelter because there is little public transportation in Oklahoma City and because the city is so spread out, Milner said.

Oklahoma and much of the nation is experiencing extreme weather this year, with frigid lows in winter and soaring highs in summer. The strange weather is presenting all sorts of unexpected challenges.

“This has just been a strange summer for us,” said Dan Straughan, executive director of the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance. “We’re used to hot days, but so many hot days for so long just caught us by surprise. As a community, we’ve always planned for the winter during the summer, but we’ve never really planned for the summer during the winter.”

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Hailey Branson-Potts in Oklahoma City

Photo: A roadside sign in Oklahoma City says it all earlier this summer. Temperatures have hovered in the 100s for weeks. Credit: Associated Press.

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