Amidst an unusually severe summer heatwave, Governor Katie Hobbs of Arizona has proclaimed a State of Emergency. The decision comes after a month-long stretch of continuous excessive heat warnings in Coconino, Maricopa, and Pinal counties. This move is intended to bolster local heat relief efforts.
In addition to this declaration, Governor Hobbs has enacted an Executive Order as part of a proactive approach to addressing future heatwaves and enhancing governmental responses.
The order establishes a centralized system for cooling centers, heat relief coordination, and the formulation of policies aimed at strengthening Arizona’s resilience to heat-related challenges in the years ahead.
Expressing the gravity of the situation, Governor Hobbs remarked, “The severity of extreme heat poses a threat to our well-being, potentially resulting in illnesses, visits to emergency rooms, and tragically, even loss of life.”
“Arizonans deserve action. I’ll use every resource at my disposal to help keep Arizonans safe as we recover from the heat wave and prepare for future events to ensure our state has the tools to continue growing and thriving.”
Amidst this ruthless summer heat wave, Coconino County, a favored summer escape for Central and Southern Arizona residents, has transformed into an inferno-like environment.
“Coconino County has traditionally been a sought-after summer retreat for those seeking respite from the scorching temperatures of Central and Southern Arizona,” noted Patrice Horstman, Chair of Coconino County.
“However, even in Northern Arizona, this summer’s heat has proven to be perilous. The sweltering conditions have pushed temperatures above 115 degrees even at the Grand Canyon’s base, a prominent tourist destination, resulting in tragic heat-related fatalities and injuries among hikers in July. The impact of this record-breaking heat has extended to our recreation-centric county, straining both visitors and our dedicated first responders. It has also taken a toll on our homeless population. Governor Hobbs’ declaration of a heat emergency in Arizona is commendable, as it draws attention and resources to safeguarding our residents and visitors.”
Robert Rowley, Director of Maricopa County Emergency Management, affirmed their commitment to safeguarding vulnerable communities during this intense heat wave.
“Our Human Services Department collaborated with municipalities earlier this year to increase funding for cooling and respite centers, alongside investments in home and air conditioner repairs for those in need,” Rowley stated.
“We intend to sustain these programs and partnerships as we navigate through this hazardous heat wave.”
Pinal County has likewise not been spared, enduring an exceedingly torrid summer.
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“Thus far, Pinal County has endured an exceptionally scorching summer, making any assistance from the Governor and the state that offers relief to our residents most welcome,” expressed Jeffrey McClure, Vice-Chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.
Governor’s Executive Order 2023-16 encompasses various measures, including the establishment of two new cooling centers on Capitol Mall grounds and the centralization of cooling center networks and heat relief efforts statewide. Moreover, the order proposes policy adjustments to enhance future heat resilience and outlines strategies to maximize the utilization of funds from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in Arizona.