When the city tweeted, in the withering mire of Sunday afternoon, a list of city “cooling centers,” it occurred to Naked City that it might be interesting to go check one out, see who was hanging there and soak up some taxpayer-funded a/c. Only it wasn’t quite that simple.
The link, tweeted by @philadelphiagov, led to the web page of the Managing Director’s Office of Emergency Management, which contained sundry information about heat, heat warnings and what to do when it gets hot — but no list of cooling centers.
There was, however, an interactive map, which after some muddled required installations of plug-ins, revealed the cooling-center locations — mostly branches of the Free Library that theoretically offer extended hours during heat warnings.
The library’s blog did list 14 branches as cooling centers — however, only one was open on Saturday and none at all on Sunday, the day of the tweet in question, despite the fact that an excessive-heat warning remained in effect.
An email to the city’s Managing Director’s Office on Monday revealed that the MDO and its Office of Emergency Preparedness, which in theory oversee such things, don’t, in fact, direct the cooling-center operations — or apparently even keep track of them. Asked whether cooling centers had been open this weekend, the MDO’s Joan Przybylowicz said her office didn’t know. They “may open” during an excessive-heat warning, and the city “may request that the Free Library extend hours,” but that it’s up to the Free Library and its branches to figure out. (The MDO doesn’t fund these emergency heat measures.) The MDO, she explained, “doesn’t have the ability to manage a list that would change every day. ... We don’t keep track of which libraries or older adult centers extend their hours for every excessive heat warning.”