Arizona’s Gov. Katie Hobbs declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the Grand Canyon State deals with an unusually severe summer heatwave.

The governor’s order comes after the state experienced 30 consecutive days of excessive heat warnings in Coconino, Maricopa and Pinal counties. The purpose of this action is to support local heat relief efforts.

As an initiative to tackle such heatwaves in the future and better coordinate governmental responses, Hobbs also signed an executive order. The order aims to provide a centralized system for cooling centers, heat relief coordination, and policies that will bolster Arizona’s heat resiliency in the coming years.

“Extreme heat threatens our health. It can lead to illness, emergency room visits, and even loss of life,” Hobbs said in a statement.

“Arizonans deserve action. I’ll use every resource at my disposal to help keep Arizonans safe as we recover from the heat wave and prepare for future events to ensure our state has the tools to continue growing and thriving.”

Coconino County, known for being a summer retreat for residents from Central and Southern Arizona, has become an infernal hell in the wake of this brutal summer heat wave.

“Coconino County is a popular summer recreation destination in Arizona where residents from Central and Southern Arizona go to escape the heat,” said Coconino County Chair Patrice Horstman. “However, even in Northern Arizona, this summer heat is lethal. Temperatures at the base of the Grand Canyon, a popular tourist destination, soared above 115 degrees, contributing to multiple heat-related hiker deaths and injuries in July.”

Horstman continued: “In our recreation-based county, record-breaking heat impacted visitors and taxed our first responders. It also took a toll on our unsheltered population. I applaud Governor Hobbs for recognizing this crisis and declaring a heat emergency in Arizona which brings attention and resources toward protecting our residents and visitors.”

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The Maricopa County emergency management’s director, Robert Rowley, affirmed their readiness to protect vulnerable populations during this intense heat.

“Our Human Services Department partnered with cities and towns earlier this year to provide more funding for cooling and respite centers while also investing in home and air conditioner repair for those who can’t afford it,” Rowley remarked. “We intend to continue those programs and partnerships while we get past this dangerous heat wave.”

Pinal County has not been spared either, experiencing a particularly torrid summer.

“This has been a brutally hot summer so far in Pinal County, so we welcome any support that the Governor and the state can offer that can help provide relief to our residents,” said vice-chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors Jeffrey McClure.

Among the measures included in the governor’s Executive Order 2023-16 are the establishment of two new cooling centers on Capitol Mall grounds and centralizing networks for cooling centers and heat relief statewide. Furthermore, it proposes policy changes for future heat resilience and outlines plans to ensure Arizona optimally utilizes the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds.

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