A thermometer stuck in the sand at a beach, displaying a high temperature reading on a clear sunny day, symbolizing a heatwave.

Stockton Residents Seek Relief In Cooling Centers Amid Scorching Heat Wave

Yellow Line

STOCKTON, Calif. — As temperatures soar into the triple digits in San Joaquin County, residents without air conditioning, like Mary Johnson, are finding ways to cope. Johnson, a longtime Stockton resident, mentioned relying on water to stay cool during the intense heat. "If you stay out in it a long time, it'll get you. I've got water. I can wet myself," she said, emphasizing the need to just "deal with it."

In response to the sweltering conditions, the City of Stockton has activated several cooling centers, including the Van Buskirk Community Center. These centers provide a crucial refuge for those unable to cool their homes. Connie Cochran, the community relations officer for the city, highlighted their importance: "Maybe you don't have air conditioning, or maybe you can't afford to run your air conditioning," she said. "And you just need somewhere to go and [be] in the shade."

Despite their availability, the cooling centers had seen no visitors by early Wednesday afternoon, suggesting a gap in community awareness. The city has made efforts to bridge this gap, particularly for its diverse population, by using technology and translation software to disseminate information in over 100 languages. Cochran noted, "There's actually a translate button on the top right corner of the website when you're there."

Dr. Ines Ruiz-Houston, vice president of El Concilio's Civic Engagement Division, pointed out that language and familiarity are significant barriers. "Language is key when people here—trusted messengers—tell people where to go, the trusted places," she explained. Her team works extensively in communities where English is not the primary language to inform them about available city resources.

However, challenges remain, as evidenced by residents like Vicki Robinson, who lives in her van near Fremont Park and was unaware of the cooling centers. "Where they at?" she inquired, highlighting the issue of the digital divide and the need for more direct communication strategies.

The city has listed several cooling centers open to the public:

  • Arnold Rue Community Center – 5758 Lorraine Ave.
  • Stribley Community Center – 1760 E. Sonora St.
  • Van Buskirk Community Center – 734 Houston Ave.
  • Seifert Community Center – 128 W. Benjamin Holt Dr.

These centers will continue to operate during the heat wave, with specific hours available on the city's website. As Stockton faces more hot days, officials and community leaders are pushing for increased outreach to ensure all residents know where they can find a cool space.

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