Heat wave takes toll on thousands in Nashville’s homeless community

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Middle Tennessee is stuck in a heatwave for the first time this summer, and it is taking a toll on those who live outside.

“Basically, we need help,” said Patty Hartman.

For the last two years, Hartman and her husband have been living on the streets of Nashville.

“The humidity and everything, it will just take your breath away,” she told News 2.

It is tough year-round, but the heat in the dog days of summer take a toll on her, especially because she suffers from Stage 2 Lupus and is stuck in a wheelchair.

(Photo: WKRN)

“We will not turn you down for water right now. We go through about a bottle every 30 or 45 minutes,” Hartman said.

She says usually her biggest concern is finding a safe place to sleep at night, but right now, it is just as important to find a cool place to stay during the day.

“We pray for a breeze at night just so we can cool off for a bit,” said Hartman.

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With temperatures reaching dangerous levels in Nashville, groups are making sure those who spend every minute in it are safe.

Open Table Nashville is one of those groups, and outreach workers are spending their summer days making sure those like Hartman are hydrated.

“When it is cold, the weather really affects folks, and the heat is the same way,” explained Lindsey Krinks.

Krinks says a big concern is the homeless community’s foot health. That is why her group and volunteers spent Wednesday morning providing first aid for those who may have broken bones, blisters, and other health issues on their feet.

“We know that first aid and foot care is really important on the streets, and we know that cold water is really important,” Krinks said.

(Photo: WKRN)

Krinks is not aware of any deaths from the heat so far this year but knows the heatwave is impacting the homeless community.

“Every year, we have people that have heat strokes and heat exhaustion,” she told News 2.

She says the best thing you can do is help.

“When you are out and about, carry extra water with you so if you pull up somewhere, you can give people bottles of water,” Krinks said.

Hartman welcomes you to stop by and chat if you have time.

“Not all of us are bad people,” she said.

The Nashville Rescue Mission’s Hot Patrols are hitting the streets this week, too. Their patrols visit camps and talk with the homeless whenever the daily temperature reaches 90 degrees.