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Nueces County cooling centers helping elderly escape the heat

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 20:54:19-04

DRISCOLL, Texas — When Margaret Carmona walks into the Nueces County Bishop Community Center everyday, she’s met with a wave of cool air from their air conditioner.

For Carmona, it’s like a breath of fresh air, except inside.

“I can come over here and breathe and I can feel a lot healthier than being at home breathing hot air,” Carmona said.

Carmona doesn’t have a central air conditioner at home, but does have an air conditioner unit on her window. That’s why she goes to the cooling center at the community center.

She suffers from heart conditions and diabetes, and Carmona said she doesn’t know what she would do without the cooling center.

“I just wouldn’t — don’t want to think about that," Carmona said, with tears in her eyes. "I’ve got two granddaughters who live with me and I hate the idea of them having to go through that, too.”

Carmona said her health conditions could get worse if she doesn’t stay in a cool area.

Maria Teresa Diaz was also at the cooling center in Bishop, and she said the center is like her second home.

She spends more time there than at her actual home. She even spent her 90th birthday Monday at the cooling center.

She said some populations need the cooling centers more than others.

“This is no joke; this is very serious. We have to take care, especially older people,” Diaz said.

Precinct 2 Nueces County Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez said he already extended the hours of the cooling centers in his precinct by an hour and isn’t considering extending it longer.

Instead, he said he’s considering giving people electric fans to take home. He said he would also put out a survey so residents in his precinct could give input about what they would like to see at the cooling centers.

Bishop resident Susanna Vela has an air conditioner at her house and said sometimes people without an air conditioner will come over to spend time at her home.

She said although fans are a good idea, she would also like to see the cooling centers open for longer.

“Even if they’re here until seven, that would be great. At night, after seven, it’s not as hot,” Vela said.

However, Carmona said a lot of people don’t know about the cooling centers and if more people knew about them, they could benefit from the center just like her.

“I figured we would have a big turnout if people would maybe know that the center’s open for them to come and enjoy the air conditioner,” she said.