As the temperature reached 104 degrees Sunday in Fresno, homeless people said was hard to find shade downtown.
Mack Easley, 44, napped on the concrete loading dock of Big Save, a wholesale bargain store on H and Ventura streets near Chinatown. The dock is shaded, but that didn’t stop sweat from beading on his forehead and trickling down his face.
“I can’t do nothing to stay cool,” he said. “I don’t have nowhere to go.”
Monday is expected to be 104 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Hanford. Fresno will see gradually cooler temperatures the rest of the week, down to a high of 95 by Saturday.
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Three friends kept Easley company on the dock. Others sat down the way, sharing one of few shaded spots in the area.
Easley said police usually ask him to leave on weekday mornings. He leaves his suitcase, boxes of clothes and folding cot at Big Save and walks downtown to sit under a tree at the Courthouse Park or hang out in the library. Weekends are more laid back, so he’s able to stay under the shade of the store’s roof.
Born in Fresno but raised in Oklahoma, Easley said he’s used to snow and tornadoes. Anything over 75 degrees is uncomfortably hot to him.
Easley can picture what he’d do for fun on summer days if he had a home: Watch TV and blast the air conditioning. Or maybe he’d cool off by taking a dip in a lake or the ocean. Instead, he drinks Hawaiian Punch out of a gallon jug, sweats and tries to keep depression at bay.
“It’s too hot,” he said, wiping his face with a green towel. “Now I got a headache.”
He’d never heard of a cooling center. Fresno has five around town, open from noon to 8 p.m. FAX gives free bus rides to and from centers so long as people indicate that’s where they are headed.
Easley’s friend Ashley Henson, 19, of Madera, also hadn’t heard about the cooling centers. She stays at Poverello House’s Community of Hope, which is open to homeless people overnight and closes during the day. She sleeps in a small shed with no air conditioning or fans.
“You just sit there and wait for it to cool down so you can go to bed,” she said.
Down the street, Edward Bowen, 43, parked his do-it-yourself mobile home in the sun outside of a gas station. The structure is built atop a small trailer with a metal bed frame, plywood pallets and half a garage door. The “home” is just big enough for a twin mattress.
Laying under the pitched roof, Bowen has shade he can take anywhere. He stays near Chinatown, though, because pulling a his home on a bicycle is hard work.
“I don’t like sleeping out there,” he said. “It’s hot.”
Bowen said innovation runs in his family. He used to keep cool by placing a fan in front of an ice chest. He lost the fan, but now when it gets too hot, he sometimes hoses down the frame of the home.
At the gas station, Bowen grabbed some ice before getting ready to find a cooler spot to stop for the night. Under the afternoon sun, his small home was stuffy. But when the breeze kicks in at night, he knew sleep would come easily.
Fresno cooling centers
▪ Ted C. Wills Community Center: 770 N. San Pablo Ave., south of Olive Avenue near the Tower District
▪ Frank H. Ball Neighborhood Center: 760 Mayor St. in west Fresno
▪ Mosqueda Community Center: 4670 E. Butler Ave. in southeast Fresno
▪ Pinedale Community Center: 7170 N. San Pablo Ave. near River Park shopping center
▪ Romain Neighborhood Park: 745 North First St., south of Highway 180, east of Highway 41 and north of Belmont