Here's a question you've probably heard more than once this week: How hot is it?
Hot enough that the Omaha Public Power District didn't cut off electricity for nonpayment on Tuesday and Wednesday, spokesman Mike Jones said Wednesday.
“If it gets very, very hot and there's a possibility that the heat could cause life-threatening situations, we would not do cutoffs,” he said.
There also will be no cutoffs Thursday. OPPD officials decide whether conditions warrant that on a day-to-day basis.
It's also hot enough that the Salvation Army will keep its cooling stations open through the weekend, spokeswoman Susan Eustice said.
The Kroc Center, 2825 Y St.; the Lied Renaissance Center, 3612 Cuming St.; and the North Corps at 2424 Pratt St. will welcome those seeking heat relief from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Eustice said they also will consider additional days depending on need. The army's location at 715 N. 16th St. in Council Bluffs will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday.
She said more than 150 people have taken advantage of the centers since last Saturday.
“We guarantee all the bottled water they need,” she said. The cooling stations have television sets and games for kids, and at the Kroc Center, you can play pool while you get cool. Anyone who wants to swim or work out at the Kroc Center must pay the daily drop-in fee.
Because of the extended hours, the Salvation Army could use donations of bottled water and individually wrapped snacks at all locations, Eustice said.
And it's hot enough that the Open Door Mission is distributing ice-cold water to people near the main library, the Gene Leahy Mall, behind the City-County Building and other places where homeless people gather, said James Cummings, spokesman for the mission.
Teams from the shelter will go on “water patrol” from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at least through Friday, he said. He also urged people to call 402-422-1111 if they see a homeless person who appears to be in heat distress. Ask for a male staff member, give him a location, and staffers will come to help.
Cummings also said a surge of low-income people have visited the shelter's Timberlake Outreach Center near 23rd and East Locust Streets seeking fans this week. They're also looking for blankets. That's not as unbelievable as it seems: When put up on windows, the blankets block out the hot sun.
It's also hot enough that people who run fans and air conditioners more than usual could need help from the OPPD Energy Assistance Program, but so far, Jones hasn't seen an increase in requests.
That probably will happen next month after people see their bills, he said.