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Maricopa Association of Governments launches Heat Relief Network as temperatures rise

Arizona saw its first 100-degree day of the year over the weekend. On Monday, the Maricopa Association of Governments and partnering agencies launched a regional Heat Relief Network, which includes  200 locations offering shade, water and indoor cooling centers.

Kelli Williams, MAG’s Human Services director, said members have discussed extending relief operations next year. She says lingering heat and increases in heat-related deaths are points of concern.

“We were in the 300 range and we went into the 400 range for 2022,” Williams said. “Which is terrible. Especially when we know that last year we had more partners than we’d ever had before who had opened their doors to try to allow people to come in with the Heat Relief Network.”

Phoenix is also taking part.

“I asked the city to turn on cold water spigots earlier this year near the Human Services campus,” said Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari. “And I'm happy to share that later today, our cooling tent outside of the campus will be open as well for residents who need to seek relief from the heat.”

Ansari says the city is working on long term solutions to get people indoors and reduce heat-related fatalities.

Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.