NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A recent report found nearly 2,000 people in Nashville are homeless, and this week, they’re trying to survive the heatwave without a place to go.
In Metro Nashville, the overbearing heat can be a challenge — one where water makes all the difference.
“We go through about a 5-gallon jug in two days, but that’s just between me, him, and our two dogs,” said Kayla Phillips, who is currently living on the streets.
| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County
It’s been a grueling couple of days for people without a home, just ask Phillips. For years, she has been living on Metro Nashville streets with her fiance and their two dogs. However, she finds herself lucky to be one of the few people who have a car and a generator to keep them cool when the heat becomes unbearable.
“When we’re in the tent, even with the fan on, we’re drenched, by the time […] 5 minutes, we’re drenched in sweat, and that’s with a fan, so I’m just imagining what everybody else is feeling,” Phillips said.
For the other nearly 2,000 people, finding protection from the hot summer months can be difficult.
“I’ve seen a person, he was taking a shower, and came out and almost passed out, he had to be put in the AC. There are a couple of people that aren’t drinking enough water, it’s hurting them, making them sweat even more. Just all in all a bad situation. We had a friend yesterday who had a seizure because of the heat,” explained Phillips.
Now, they are relying on buses like “Shower the People” where volunteers offer free showers and cold water to help people stay cool. Inside the bus, two showers spaces are offered.
Organizations like Open Table Nashville are also lending a hand, and keeping those without a home, cool during the peak summer months.
“We have too many friends who wait years and years for their names to come up on housing waitlists, and they don’t make it in time,” said India Pungarcher, with Open Table Nashville.
So far this year, Open Table Nashville has tracked 76 people living on the street has died. Oftentimes, when death happens it largely goes unreported, and the organization struggles to find the cause of death. With little relief from the heat, it could get worse.
“A few weeks ago it was not nearly as hot as it is now, and I had someone who just wanted to sit in my car, for a little bit and cool down because he couldn’t keep any water down, he couldn’t do anything, he was clearly heat exhausted,” explained Claire Hennigan, with Open Table Nashville.
Both Hennigan and Pungarcher carry essentials to give out in their car. Items including water, snacks, ice packs and t-shirts that can be used to carry around as
Oftentimes, tents serve as protection, but in the summer months, they can get 5-10 degrees warmer compared to outside. With temperatures hitting close to triple digits, many worry about dehydration.
“It’s like a greenhouse effect, so it gets really stressful, to be in there because you’re protected from the elements, but in the same town, you’re getting that much hotter,” said Hennigan.