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story.lead_photo.caption Matthew Angeles, 12, (left) and Jeremiah Jackson, 12, take a break from the heat Wednesday at Little Rock’s Southwest Community Center. City officials have opened the center and three others to residents needing to escape high temperatures after the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the area. - Photo by Thomas Metthe

It's too hot.

At least that's what Regina Osburne-Trammell thinks. She almost fainted Wednesday while she used a crutch to limp from the Motel 6 to the North Little Rock heat-relief center. Her husband, Jason Cox, helped her get to the air-conditioned building.

"I didn't even make it to the door before I almost fell out," said Osburne-Trammell, 41.

Little Rock has opened four cooling centers across the city as heat indexes top 105 degrees. Much of the state was under a heat advisory until 8 p.m. Wednesday , and the National Weather Service website advised that another day of dangerous heat is expected.

The cooling centers in Little Rock and North Little Rock are at:

• North Little Rock Community Center -- 2700 Willow St.

• Dunbar Community Center -- 1001 W. 16th St.

• East Little Rock Community Center -- 2500 E. Sixth St.

• Southwest Community Center -- 6401 Baseline Road

• West Central Community Center -- 4521 John Barrow Road

The Little Rock centers are open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. The North Little Rock center is scheduled to be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Tony Pate, the community and fitness center director in North Little Rock, said this is the first time the centers have opened this year. There are usually at most five people who use that center in a day, and those who do are usually homeless or senior citizens who live in homes that lack air conditioning.

The Little Rock centers also have low attendance, said John Eckart, the director of the Parks and Recreation Department.

"Occasionally we will have one or two that utilize it, but it's usually very little," he said.

Sandra Wilson, the president of the Arkansas Homeless Coalition, said she has heard from people in past years that they don't want to go to the centers because it makes it harder to go back out into the heat when the centers close.

She added that while she hasn't heard of anyone recently having heatstroke, "it can't be far behind, as hot as it is."

Gala Tallent, the founder of Street Ministry, said she's seen people who need water and one man who got sick from the heat. Street Ministry is a Little Rock group that takes food to people who live outside.

She said her group distributes water and ice every day when the temperature is high.

"We beg them to go to the cooling centers, but a lot of people just do not take advantage of them," Tallent said.

The Little Rock centers provide water and light snacks, Eckart said.

There isn't food available at the North Little Rock center, but two water fountains and a couple of vending machines are available to the public, Pate said.

Osburne-Trammell munched on McDonald's french fries while she sat next to Cox in the cooling center. He checked his phone and mopped his forehead with a rag, awaiting a text from a friend he'd asked to pick them up.

Osburne-Trammell and Cox have been together off and on since junior high school and recently got married. Osburne-Trammell said her health problems -- epilepsy, diabetes, asthma, fibromyalgia and a broken ankle -- make it harder to deal with the heat.

"Heat affects my health like that," she said, snapping her fingers for effect.

She's been in and out of housing since 2017 when she finished her last prison sentence for drug-related charges. They've been staying with friends and in the motel, but had to check out at 11 a.m. and venture into the heat.

She said they've been turned away from several businesses when they went in to use the bathroom or sit for a minute.

"People need to understand to have a lot more compassion," Osburne-Trammell said.

Cox is soft-spoken, filling up their water bottles while his wife talks and placing them in a plastic bag next to a bottle of blue Powerade, getting ready to leave.

Osburne-Trammell has big plans for their future: secure jobs, finish her Spanish and sign-language degrees, find a house to live in, stay clean, maybe sleep in a place with air conditioning tonight.

Metro on 07/11/2019

Print Headline: Cooling centers open in Little Rock, North Little Rock, offering respite from heat

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