Lorenzo Pierson hung a rug on the fence next to his tent. In the middle of the day, with the sun directly over 12th Street in Phoenix, Arizona, it casts a dash of shadow. “Last week we had three deaths in a row,” he says. The heat has become too hot for the homeless who live here in tents along the road.
Twice a week the whole tent camp has to go to the side, then a broom cart crosses 12th Street. “Sometimes a tent stays there, and the police will see what’s going on,” Pierson explains. “Then they find the body. “
In 2020, in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, 323 people died as a direct result of the heat. This year, the city is already above that number by mid-July. Heat records are broken again in America’s hottest city. The west of the country continues the fourth heat wave of this season. After the hottest June on record, July is already historic.
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When Stacey Champion arrives on 12th Street, there is hardly anyone in sight. But as soon as she begins to unload the first packages of water, the tents open and the street fills up. Stacey describes herself as a “heat activist,” fighting for more attention to be paid to the deadly heat problem. “The heat is a silent killer, it happens inside. Your organs are breaking down, you are sinking, no one notices that you are dying.”
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