PETERSBURG, Va. – As muggy conditions and feels-like temps climbed to at least 100-105 on Thursday, Petersburg officials are urging residents to make use of the city’s cooling station at the Petersburg Area Transit (PAT) Building.
"It's very hard out there when it's hot," Yvette Seliem-Poindexter with PAT said.
A heat advisory was in effect for eastern Virginia, and the Richmond metro areas and points south, until 8 p.m. Thursday. And Friday will be a similar day where another heat advisory will likely be issued, according to meteorologists.
"We offer you freedom from the heat. We provide shelter, water and a place to just relax," Seliem-Poindexter said.
While it is not new that the city opens the transit building as a Comfort Station, city leaders said they were disappointed more residents were not using the shelter.
"It's very frustrating, because if you really think about it, you think of your homeless, your elderly out there,” Seliem-Poindexter said. “They could die from heat exhaustion and may not have anyone to call 911 if needed."
Tammy Crenshaw said she has used the cooling station in the past and believes others should too.
“Come down here, get cooled off, cause the temperatures getting hotter and hotter, and we don't want to die,” Crenshaw said.
Getting to the cooling station is easy and free.
"The answer is they can ride our buses for free, we're zero fare and we are centrally located,” Seliem-Poindexter explained. “We access every top point in Petersburg."
The cooling station at the PAT Building at 100 West Washington Street is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday through the end of the summer.
"City residents can ride the bus free to the Transit Center, take some time to relax, cool down from high temperatures, have some cold water and then return home on the bus," city officials said.
Food and pets, except service animals, are not allowed in the cooling station. And visitors are asked to wear masks.