Some St. Louis church leaders are taking to the pulpit in an effort save lives as the death toll from this year’s heat wave continues to grow. Persistent high temperatures that began late last month have been blamed for 23 deaths in the St. Louis area so far.
Rev. C. Jessel Strong, president of the Clergy Coalition of Greater St. Louis, is asking clergy members to spread the word about checking on elderly and disabled residents. Strong says it important for these residents to not worry about their utility bills and keep the AC turned on.
"We as compassionate men and women of the calling have and will continue to use our pulpits to let people know about the seriousness of using their electricity."
Many of those who died were not using their air conditioners. State law forbids utilities from disconnecting electrical services when temperatures are projected to be higher than 95 degrees.
Rev. Earl Nance who co-chairs Cool Down St. Louis says his congregation will be working with the St. Louis city Health Department to spread the word about safety during the hot spell.
“This Sunday at my pulpit, I plan to welcome health director Pam Walker to give us a graphic picture and an in-depth [look] at what we need to do across this region," Nance said. "We first need to save the souls of people – the fragile seniors and disabled – on whose shoulders we continue to stand on.”
17 deaths in St. Louis city have been blamed on the persistent high temperatures which arrived late last month. There were eight heat-related deaths in the city last year.
For now, the heat wave seems here to stay. The National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures in the upper 90s over the weekend and a return of triple-digit temperatures on Monday.