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Cooling centers open as extreme heat hits eastern Iowa

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WATERLOO-CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) - The City of Cedar Falls has designated some of the public buildings as cooling centers due to the extreme heat affecting much of eastern Iowa. 

Black Hawk County has experienced extreme heat and the cooling centers are available for public use to help combat the sun. 

“We want to make sure the community has places they can go to be safe,” City of Cedar Falls Communication Specialist Amanda Huisman said. 

The Hearst Center for the Arts, the Cedar Falls Public Library, and the Cedar Falls Visitor Center are all spots you can go and stay cool in. 

“These places are always available but we want to make sure to send out reminders in extreme heat because people might be looking for a place to cool off,” Huisman said. 

Cedar Falls Public Safety says doing everything you can to avoid a medical emergency is best. Wearing loose-fitted clothing, limiting your time outdoors, and sunscreen are good ideas. 

Water and shade are also must-haves, which every cooling center location offers. 

“It’s great for the community as a whole to have places where people who don’t have access to those kinds of things can have access,” Public Safety Officer Lucas Schmidt said. 

The Hearst Center and library are the two cooling centers that offer free Wi-Fi, so folks can study, work, and relax for a while inside. 

“They’re welcome to fill up their water bottles use the water fountains, sit and read, we have magazines and books and all kinds of things to look at,” Cedar Falls Public Library Director Kelly Stern said. 

“The community’s living room” is how Stern described the library, as anyone and everyone can stop in any time. A library card is not needed to go in and read, use the computers, and hang out unless you want to check out any materials. 

“So it makes sense to also provide a place to cool off if you happen to be out in the heat today and need a place to cool off,” Stern said. 

There is no fee for the three cooling centers.

The buildings are always open for public use and are also designated as warming centers during the winter months. 

The Hearst Center for the Arts operates:

  • Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Cedar Falls Public Library operates:

  • Monday-Wednesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 
  • Thursday-Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
  • Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday 1 p.m to 5 p.m.

The Cedar Falls Visitor Center operates:

  • Monday-Friday 9 a.m to 5 p.m. 

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Salvation Army location on Franklin Street in Downtown Waterloo is also operating as a cooling center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, July, 28. Masks are required and people there will be asked to social distance.

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Diego Hernandez

Multimedia Journalist

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