OWS was created in 1982 as a consortium of public and private organizations in and around the St. Louis Metropolitan Area to address the needs of the community during extreme weather conditions and work together to prevent illness and death resulting from extreme hot and cold weather. This collaborative partnership encompasses many industries from non-profit human services agencies to public and private healthcare providers, utility companies, educators, manufacturers, retailers, city, county, and state emergency management agencies, and the National Weather Services.
OWS assists in mitigation of weather related emergencies by maintaining resource directories for each of the participating counties and assisting in the identification of needs that may be met by the affiliated organizations serving those counties. The affiliated organizations provide various kinds of assistance to those suffering from the effects of extreme weather conditions such as operation of cooling sites where individuals can come to be in an air conditioned facility and receive cold beverages, distribution and installation of air conditioning units to qualified persons, and financial assistance to enable individuals to keep their utilities on during extreme hot or cold weather. Other assistance offered by the partner organizations included preparedness education and referral and information services.
In 1966, 246 individuals were reported to have died as a result of the heat in the St. Louis metropolitan area. St. Louis experienced heat waves in 1993, 1988, 1995, without experiencing death rates close to the total of 113 in 1980. A total of 134 heat related deaths have occurred in St. Louis city from 1989 through 2003. Thirty-nine deaths in this same time period occurred in St. Louis County. St. Louis ranks in the top five in the U.S. for heat related deaths.
Severe winter weather is defined as sleet, freezing rain, and heavy snow and can be accompanied by strong winds creating blizzard conditions, severe drifting and dangerous wind chill/ Ice storms cause significant hazards as well. Communications and power can be disrupted for days, resulting in residents using alternate fuel sources that are likely to start fires. Strong winds with intense storms and cold fronts knock down trees, utility poles and power lines. Extreme cold often accompanies a winter storm. Winter weather can result in injuries, death, and property damage. Prolonged exposure to cold can cause frostbite. Hypothermia can become life-threatening. The coldest December on record was 1983 with temperature average of 20.5 degrees F. Multiple homes and businesses had water pipes break, people were admitted to hospitals for hypothermia/frostbite and schools were closed.
Because your organization cares about our community and the people who live in it, you need to assist in the mitigation efforts and help promote the educational programs and various other assistance offered by the affiliated partners of OWS.
Contact Laclede Gas, Gloria Thirdkill at (314) 342-0669.
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