People enjoy Hope Mills Lake as a place to get relief from the heat in Cumberland County

Monique John Image
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Hope Mills Lake offers relief from heat in Cumberland County
Mayor Jackie Warner says people experiencing homelessness have been coming out for a safe place to stay cool off.

People are taking advantage of the Sandhills region's natural resources to cope with the intense heat.

Hope Mills officials say that is especially true for vulnerable people without homes and access to air conditioning and they're seeing more of these people coming out to the town lake.

Mayor Jackie Warner tells ABC11 those experiencing homelessness have been coming out for a safe place to stay cool during this year's ongoing heatwaves.

"And as they should. I mean, you know, they have just as much right as anybody else," said Christy Leedy, an attendee at the lake.

"It makes me think like, what else would they be doing if there wasn't a resource like this for them? Because I would just be so upset sitting in this heat all day," said Armani Paradise.

"I tend to feel like they're very respectful as long as, you know, you don't be rude to them, you know, like antagonize them, you know, you just let them be just like they're here," said Jan Torres.

Torres says she came to the lake because it reminds her of the beach at her hometown in California. "Just like you're here at the lake to enjoy your day, so are they."

After the lake was closed on and off going back to 2003 following a major storm, people say they appreciate having a free summer attraction in the heart of town:

"It's the centerpiece of Hope Mills," said Anthony Looney. "And people are just glad to have it back."

Looney says he lives around the corner from the lake but that the AC in his car is broken. He says stopping by the lake helps him get through his shifts driving for Door Dash.

Related: Cumberland County cooling stations

"Running in and out, in and out. And you know, I do get a little break from going into the restaurants but from the AC going from there right back to the heat is just no relief."

Visitors can take a swim in Hope Mills Lake from sunrise to about 30 minutes before sunset Monday to Saturday.

Swimming hours are from 12:30 pm to 6:30 pm on Sundays. Visitors are also welcome to fish and kayak at the lake.

Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke

How to survive a prolonged heat wave

AccuWeather has tips for making it through a prolonged heat wave.

Staying Safe in Extreme Heat

Adults older than 65, children younger than four, people with existing medical conditions, and those without access to air conditioning are at the greatest risk on days with high temperatures.

Drinking plenty of water and staying out of the sun are critical cautions to take.

People should also check on their neighbors who may be at high risk and ensure they have access to heat relief and hydration.

RELATED | Staying cool in extreme heat