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City will look into failed air conditioning at senior housing tower

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – The city of St. Louis will look into what happened at a high rise for seniors near downtown St. Louis where residents went several days without air conditioning during the hottest stretch of the year.

Air conditioning at the Cochran Towers Senior Building, which a third party manages for the city, went out early last week, said interim city health director Pamela Rice Walker. A temporary repair failed just as the hottest weather settled in, and inspectors for the health department found temperatures in many of the rooms approaching 100 degrees.

Landlords need to make sure that the city's emergency response agency has a way to contact them after hours in case air conditioning in a building fails, Walker said. She urged residents to take advantage of 71 cooling centers in the region.

"Go to the library, go someplace to have lunch that's cooler, go someplace for a few hours during the heat of the day just to cool down. Your home will be safe," she said.

The city and counties in the region reported several cases of heat-related illnesses at area hospitals, but no deaths. In the city, two people died of the heat in 2009.

Wednesday should be the last day of extreme heat, said National Weather Service senior meteorologist Fred Glass, who said it's not unusual for St. Louis to see temperatures in the 90s and heat indexes above 100 degrees this early in the summer.

"I think that because it came on right at the beginning of the summer and last summer wasn't really all that bad that maybe it's taken a few people by surprise," he said.

A cold front will mean highs in the lower 90s later in the week, with drier air, Glass said. And if long-term models are correct, St. Louis will see temperatures in the mid-80s at the end of next week - just in time for the 4th of July weekend.

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