HOW TO HELP
Chattanooga Community Kitchen officials say the following items are needed to assist homeless people this summer:
• Bottled water
• Insect repellent
Marnie Hogan is a 39-year homeless anemic who lives in a tent. With temperatures expected to soar into the 90s this week, bottled water is crucial to her health.
"It's hot as hell out here," Hogan said Friday as sweat beaded on her face. "We're all going to need water."
Hogan is one of more than 500 homeless people who visit the Chattanooga Community Kitchen daily. Many of them get bottled water from an ice chest to last through the night.
The community kitchen is calling for bottled water donations to head off dehydration for the homeless who live outside. Community Kitchen representatives are making a special plea to churches that have donated water in the past as part of Vacation Bible School projects.
Heat-related health problems have already started, officials said.
Hogan and others at the shelter said they have experienced dehydration this year.
She said lack of hydration causes her to hyperventilate. She said she got so sick this month while walking in the heat that she couldn't breathe. Friends sat her in the shade and tried to give her water, but she kept throwing it back up.
The Community Kitchen has three coolers filled with water and cups for people to use while there, but homeless people need bottled water they can take with them, said Charlie Hughes, the kitchen's executive director.
The kitchen can go through 1,000 bottles of water a day, said Jens Christensen, the Community Kitchen's assistant director. It's not unusual for someone to take two or three bottles with them.
Christensen said the kitchen has less than a week's supply of bottled water.
After days of cool breezes and highs in the 80s last week, temperatures reached the 90s on Friday. Highs are expected to be in the 90s throughout the week, said Jerry Hevrdeys, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Faye Lynn, a 51-year-old homeless diabetic, got so hot this month while waiting on the bus that she passed out.
"I was dehydrated and seeing stars," Lynn said.
She said doctors at Erlanger hospital told her to drink water to stay hydrated.
Dehydration problems are compounded with diabetics and people taking medication for mental illness, because the medicines don't circulate in the body properly without hydration, said Hughes.
"We all think about homelessness when it's real cold outside, but there's more medical problems caused by the heat than by the cold," he said.