Roanoke taking steps to battle extreme heat in Northwest neighborhoods

ROANOKE, Va. – As temperatures soar and climate change concerns escalate, the city of Roanoke announced a new program to help Northwest Roanoke with heat resilience.

Professionals from all over the country, ranging from architects to engineers, are in Roanoke to help develop project ideas to make the city more heat resilient.

“The risks that are associated with climate change including rising temperatures are not equally borne across the city. So not only are temperatures in the northwest higher but there’s also greater social vulnerability because of overlapping social challenges that are experienced in that part of the city,” Dr. Theo Lim, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech said.

Dr. Lim is the leader of the HOPE for Heat Resilience project. Students at Virginia Tech and local partners are figuring out how to adapt to change in climate. With the research through HOPE for Heat Resilience, the city of Roanoke is receiving technical assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The Technical Assistance Program is providing us the next level of detail that the three projects that we’ve chosen to receive technical assistance from could benefit from,” Lim said.

Estelle McCadden Park is just one locality they have pinpointed to help with heat resilience. Planting trees and adding picnic shelters is just the start.

The other two projects are at McGray Court Senior Living and the Hope Center. For McGray, to help put in backup power when a heat wave wipes it out and the hope center to become a resilience hub for individuals seeking water and cooling shelters.

“We are really just excited to be out here in communities and giving the funding to those who really need it the most to help advance this important work,” Lauren Jensen, public health analyst with EPA said.

In October, the city of Roanoke will apply for the community change grant, if awarded, EPA will give $10-20 million to help with the listed projects. That funding will come from the $2 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act from the Biden-Harris Administration.

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