Saturday, July 31, 1999

Sweat rolls on city from dawn to dusk

The Cincinnati Enquirer

9:15 a.m. 96 degrees: Charles Miller lugs home an air conditioner.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        Even nightfall brought little relief from the hot, sticky air hanging over Greater Cincinnati. The heat wave that has claimed 10 lives continues. So do work and play.

        Enquirer reporters, thermometers in hand, set out Friday to chronicle life during another hot, nasty day.

        6:15 a.m. 88 degrees: The sun has yet to rise, but already Clifford Feise, 79, can feel the heat.

        He was barechested in the front yard of his apartment complex in Walnut Hillswhere he feeds the birds and squirrels each morning.

        “It's not even cool now,” he says. “There's no breeze.”

        6:49 a.m. 88 degrees: Garbage collector Rodney Watts has been working since 5 a.m., an hour earlier than Rumpke workers started last summer. The Westwood man wipes sweat from his face almost continuously.

        Mr. Watts' orange uniform shirt is unbuttoned, and his thick, rubber gloves are lined with cotton to lessen the sweating.

        “I never knew it to be this hot,” he says. “I just stick my head out of the window and hope to catch a breeze.”

10:40 a.m. 96 degrees: Garry Fath, a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, takes a water break during his rounds in Sharonville.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        7:30 a.m. 90 degrees: Vicky and James Coleman stay close to the wall, hiding in the shadows to find relief.

        The Community Action Agency in Walnut Hills doesn't open until 8 a.m., but they are waiting in hopes of getting a fan and some help in paying their utility bill.

        Ms. Coleman, 46, is an assistant nurse. Mr. Coleman, 49, is unemployed.

        8:30 a.m. 85 degrees: Church employees Brian

        Barnes and Mark Mitten work in front of Solid Rock Church on Union Road in Monroe under a cloudless Warren County sky that offers no hope for a cooling rain.

        Mr. Mitten, 36, maneuvers the controls on a backhoe he's using to dig a hole for what will be a decorative pool or waterfall at the church's new entrance.

        Mr. Barnes, 24, stands by, sweat clinging to his hairline and forehead, ready to dig in places the backhoe can't — or shouldn't — reach.

        “It's not too bad,” Mr. Barnes says. “I used to live in California, so I'm used to the heat. But you still have to be careful when it gets this hot. We may go inside and do some work this afternoon.”

3:40 p.m. 127 degrees on vinyl chairs: The pool at Overhill Swim Club in Delhi offers some relief from the heat.
(Thomas E. Witte photo)
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        8:46 a.m. 102 degrees: Bill Pritz takes a breath before opening the oven at his Shadeau Breads bakery in Over-the-Rhine. Reaching into the 450-degree oven with a flat paddle, he rotates four stacks of sesame ciabatta breads.

        He has been baking for hours.Sweat rolls down his face. The only ventilation comes from a front door and back window.

        9 a.m. 85 degrees: At the Butler County Fairgrounds in Hamilton, Brandon Browning and Brandon Rice prepare the Lee Snyder Pony Rides. “See that fan over there?” says Mr. Rice, 18, of Independence, Ky. “It's a life-saver. We keep cool with liquids and stuff.””

        To help the horses cope with the heat, the two young men wipe them off with water periodically and make sure the animals have plenty of fresh water to drink.

        9:15 a.m. 96 degrees: Sweat pours down his face as Charles Miller of Over-the-Rhine walks three blocks with an air-conditioner hoisted on his shoulder. He heaves and wheezes. He has bronchitis and chest pains.

        But he needs the air-conditioner for his third-floor apartment.

        “It's a blessed day,” he says. “Yes, it is. I got air conditioning. I'm amazed. Very amazed.”

        He got the air conditioner free from Mercy Franciscan at St. John in Over-the-Rhine.

        10 a.m. 96 degrees: Monroe water Superintendent Rob Takach and his crew chase around town after a power failure, working to keep the city's water system working properly.

        “When we lost power, we lost communication between our three water storage tanks and the water treatment plant,” says Mr. Takach, 37. “That means you have to run the tanks manually.”

        As if that weren't bad enough, the air conditioning in both the department's trucks is out, leaving the men delighted when a slight breeze wafts by.

        10:40 a.m. 96 degrees: Mail carrier Garry Fath of Mount Healthy takes several large gulps from his government-issue water bottle.

        Mr. Fath says this is the first time in 15 years that the Sharonville branch Post Office has supplied workers with bottled water.

        The sweat glistens on his face, and he's been delivering mail only half an hour.

        “It wears you out,” he says.

        11 a.m. 102 degrees: Dwayne Chandler stands outside the new Monroe Urban Center and cuts a piece of oak with a circular saw.

        Heat radiates from the saw as it sprays sawdust on a sweat-soaked Mr. Chandler, 37, an employee of Gebhart Contractors in Hamilton.

        The Bethel man has no free hand to wipe away the sweat, and it drips down on the panel he's cutting for a bench in the new city council chambers.

        “I get to go inside and install this. It's cool in there,” he says, grinning. “I go in and out. And I drink a lot of water when it's like this. You have to. When you stop sweating, then you start worrying.”

        Noon. 102 degrees:. Under the smoldering heat, 19-year-old Mitch Miller of Price Hill rakes wet asphalt for a road-resurfacing project in Sharonville.

        His shoes are crusted with asphalt. His only shelter is a cap soaked with sweat. His neck is burned dark red.

        The heat definitely makes it harder to work, he says.

        3:40 p.m. 127 degrees on vinyl chairs: The temperature is at full scorch at the Overhill Swim Club in Delhi. Debbie Roettker, 41, brought her children and her mother, Pauline DiSanto, 59, to the club for some heat relief.

        It helped, but not much.

        “You can't do anything — either you have to be in the pool or in the air,” Mrs. Roettker says. “You can't even walk on the concrete it's so hot.”

        4:05 p.m. 97 degrees: Grill man Scott Massey flips a switch and sends flames rolling through the hardwood barbecue pit of Walt's Hitching Post restaurantin Fort Wright, Ky.

        After two years of roasting ribs in the small whitewashed grill building, Mr. Massey is used to the sweltering temperatures, which reached 110 degrees.

        “I've almost passed out a couple of times,” he says, grinning. “But after a while you get used to it. Your hands go a little numb, you just can't feel the heat anymore.”

        4:38 p.m. 99 degrees in the shade: Tom Dusing squints under the awning of the Dusing Brothers Icehouse in Erlanger. Despite the 5-foot tall chunks of ice behind him, he's sweating.

        “This is about as hot as it gets,” he says. “Every once in a while I sneak into the freezer and just stand there.”

        5:03 p.m. 102 degrees. As soon as shoppers step inside Tri-County Mall, they feel the bliss of 80 air-conditioned degrees .

        Grace Blisset comes in after smoking a cigarette outside. She is visiting from North Hamptonshire, England, where July means a heavy sweater and raincoat.

        “I really haven't gotten used to it yet,” she says. “How do you Americans deal with it over here? My husband is taking it much worse than me. His legs and his ankles have swollen up to twice their size with the heat.”

        Sylvia Alvarez glistens with beads of sweat as she enters the mall. She breathes a sigh of relief.

        “This is horrible. I stay inside all the time, all the time. And when I go outside for a few seconds, it feels like I've been out there all day,” Ms. Alvarez says. “But now I'll cool down and shop.”

        5:08 p.m. 122 degrees on asphalt: Chad Davis, 21, of Fort Mitchell, is sweating as soon as he leaves work at the Kroger building and crosses the parking lot.

        “It just hit me right away,” he says, wiping his brow. Relief takes a while, even after he makes it to his car.

        The sun had turned his black 1996 Toyota Corolla into a 118-degree oven.

        7:40 p.m., 104 degrees in the Red seats of Cinergy Field: Kurt Wendel of Milford is getting married today to his sweetheart of five years. So with one last night of the bachelor's life, or freedom as his friends put it, he was enjoying a guy's night out. He has two best men. One, Mark Kinder of Mount Washington, suggested they start the night at the Reds game. The rest of the group's members have outdoor jobs.

        “Mark works in an office,” Mr. Wendel said.

        Janet Wetzel, Randy McNutt, Hang Nguyen, Perry Brothers, Phillip Pina, Molly Harper and Tom McCann contributed to this report.

City roasts in 101 heat
- Sweat rolls on city from dawn to dusk
Heat hurts animals, crops
Heat harder on those who are homeless
How to avoid heat-related illness
Tips on staying cool
Get help from the heat
How to conserve energy
Public pools
5-day forecast

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