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Alex Gonzalez, Producer
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
Last week, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs declared an emergency in response to the intense heat wave being felt around the state.
The governor had received criticism from some in Arizona who said she was not doing enough to address the issue, as parts of Arizona recently set a record of 30 consecutive days of 110 degrees or greater.
This season in Maricopa County alone, there have been 59 confirmed heat-associated deaths, with many more still under investigation.
Rep. Analise Ortiz, D-Phoenix, said the extreme heat has “led to a drain on public resources.”
“The declaration of emergency will allow government entities to be reimbursed for the expenses they made during this time,” Ortiz explained.
According to Hobbs’ declaration, Coconino, Maricopa and Pinal counties are eligible to apply for $200,000 in reimbursement. Ortiz noted the governor also has created two new cooling centers in the Government Mall in downtown Phoenix via an executive order she also signed last week.
Other local and state leaders have been pushing for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to add extreme heat to the list of declared emergencies. By doing so, it would free up federal dollars to help combat and mitigate the negative impacts of extreme heat in Arizona. With Hobbs’ recent Declaration of Emergency, government agencies can submit receipts for heat-related costs and be reimbursed.
Ortiz pointed out Gov. Hobbs’ recently enacted executive order also puts in motion other directives.
“She’s directed state agencies to build a comprehensive plan to address heat emergencies in the future,” Ortiz added.
The order also calls for “proposing policy changes and legislation proposals to build future heat resiliency,” and allocates approximately $13 million in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds to go toward preventing power outages and improving Arizona’s current electric grid.