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Clarksville launches new initiative to combat extreme heat

The program will study the summer heat’s effects on residents and develop local strategies to mitigate public health impacts.

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. — While summer often means fun days in the sun, it can also mean dangerously high temperatures.

"Extreme heat is actually the deadliest weather hazard in the U.S.," said Bronte Murrell, Clarksville's newly-appointed heat relief coordinator. "It is responsible for more fatalities than flooding, hurricanes, or tornadoes."

Over the next two years, Murrell will study the summer heat’s effects on residents and develop local strategies to mitigate public health impacts as part of the city's Beat the Heat program. 

"Clarksville is one of the hottest places in Indiana," Murrell said. "This has to do with the development in the area. We've got I-65, we've got a lot of commercial development." 

The program is a collaboration with Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The Town of Clarksville was awarded a $121,900 grant to develop a strategy for relieving the impacts of extreme summer heat on the community.

"Historically Clarksville has had 17 hot days per year but by the 2050s that number is going to more than double, to 36-38 hot days per year," said Murrell.

Currently, the town is in Phase 2 of 5, a community needs assessment. Murrell said the next few months will be dependent on the community's input and help in identifying the hottest places in town to develop a heat map that will then be used to create and test heat relief strategies in Clarksville. 

A Heat Relief Task Force, which will include local leaders and community members, will be meeting regularly to advise the program coordinator and contribute to the initiative’s success. Clarksville will also be participating in a national campaign to map the hottest locations within US cities, with guidance and technical support provided by CAPA Strategies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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