Today's 106-degree temperature widened the divide between the haves and the have-nots in Seattle: those who have air conditioning and those who do not. Some of us scurried back to our cool offices to grind out a workday; some others sardined themselves into their local library branch along with the rest of their neighborhood (but not the Seattle Central Library!). But what were our elected officials doing on this historic hell day?
I asked all the Seattle City Council members how the heat was treating them. I didn't ask Mayor Jenny Durkan because if her lakefront Windermere home didn't come with AC, she should seriously ask for a refund.
Mostly, I just wanted to know whether Seattle's unairconditioned population is represented in Seattle City Council. During this important investigation, I also learned District 6's Councilmember Dan Strauss saved some someone's life on Friday.
At-large Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda has a window AC unit. On Friday, she told me that she and her husband planned to put the unit in their baby's room to keep that little cherub cool. "We might all huddle around it," Mosqueda said.
"I do not have air conditioning," District 7's Andrew Lewis texted me. "So I am dealing with the heat with, like, fans."
He waited for a beat and then texted again.
"I would add the fans are not very effective, so it’s pretty miserable."
Council President Lorena González, who recently relocated to a rental home after a deadly condo fire, doesn't have any sort of AC. She has a basement that tends to be about 10 degrees cooler, though. That's where she'll be during the worst of the heat, she said.
Tammy Morales, who is worth around $3 million, said her District 2 home had AC but that it "was no match for heat." Her house stayed around 84 degrees yesterday. "We'll be in the basement today." She and her family will be downing sweet tea and mainlining watermelon to stay cool.
Dan Strauss doesn't have cool air in his life either, but he can usually find some near the water in his beloved Ballard. He referred to Seattle's waterways as "the best air conditioner we have." But, Strauss stressed that people need to remember to wear their personal floatation devices and only swim in spaces "in your ability level."
Then, Strauss launched into a story about how he ~saved a drowning woman's life~ on Friday.
"I wouldn't say that," Strauss said when I paraphrased his story as "saving a drowning woman's life."
Strauss clarified: "I provided assistance to a swimmer in distress." Okay, so he saved a drowning woman's life.
On Friday, Strauss was kicking back at one of Ballard's pocket beaches when he observed a swimmer who swam out beyond the pilings "and into the navigation channel which has current," Strauss explained. The swimmer fought against the current to no avail. People watching on the shore could tell she was stuck. People debated calling 911, but Strauss had a kayak next to him. He hopped into it and paddled out to help the woman.
"I’m a strong paddler, but it was hard to get that person back into shore," Strauss said. "There's a lot of drag paddling two people. Bring a personal floatation device if you're going to go in [to the water] after someone."
Last week, a father died after trying to rescue his son who had fallen out of a boat in Lake Washington—a lake that took more lives over the weekend.
Council members Kshama Sawant, Alex Pedersen, and Debora Juarez did not fill me in on how they're faring during the heatwave.
Correction: Whoopsie! An earlier version of this post misidentified a swimmer in distress as a man. The swimmer clarified to The Stranger that she is, in fact, a woman. The woman also said she wasn't in distress. We may have more on this story soon!