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Church May Offer Place to Keep Cool During Heat Waves

This Middletown Episcopal house of worship said it would be interested in letting residents come in and stay for a bit if they need a place to cool off in the high heat.

on Main Street in Middletown is known for doing outreach.

The Head Start program in Middletown opened up here, as did the initial chapter of the American Red Cross back in the early 20th century. , inviting in some of Middletown’s homeless to speak during the service.

More recently, Holy Trinity — like others in the city and across Middlesex County — opened its doors during the freak October snowstorm, which knocked out power to several across the area.

“I mean we’re a church on Main Street,” said the Rev. Maggie Minnick, when asked about outreach efforts. “That’s our job,”

But, this week, a less disastrous weather event has been unleashed not only on the city, but on the state and the nation: another high-temperature heat wave. What’s worse, according to the National Weather Service, it’s not expected to get any cooler until later this week.

In light of this, Minnick said she’d consider opening the church as a place where people can come and stay cool during the dogged days of summer. She admitted that this isn’t always a practice for the church, however after being asked by Patch about the idea she thought it it'd be something to try.

“If it did happen we could certainly say, starting next week, if the temperatures go over 90 they can come by and cool off,” Minnick said.

Local and state governments will often open cooling centers during these very hot days, as record temperatures continue to be broken on a near-weekly basis. Often times, the building of choice is a senior center, a school or some other public facility that’s use to have regular visitors.

In times of distress, local officials will sometimes ask churches to open their doors as shelters, which is what happened during Tropical Storm Irene, Minnick said.

But voluntarily opening as a cooling center? When reached by phone, many churches in northern Middlesex County said they don’t have any sort of operation like that, although some churches — like St. Patrick’s in East Hampton and St. Sebastian’s in Middletown — mentioned that the church is open during the day for people to come in.

An individual at South Church in Middletown noted that even his building isn’t air conditioned, and the church does what it can by just using portable fans.

Minnick said Holy Trinity itself isn’t air-conditioned, however there are two rooms available in the building that are.

“If we run into another on of these (heat waves), I guess we’ll consider opening if needed,” she said.

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