Extreme Temperature and Sheltering Resources

During extreme temperatures for either heat or cold, the Polk County Extreme Temperature Plan will be in effect. Activation criteria for extreme temperatures is as follows:



  • 95 degree (heat index) or above AND
  • 2 consecutive days in which the heat index does not fall below 75 degrees at night.
  • 10 degrees (wind chill) for three or more consecutive days OR
  • 5 degrees (wind chill) for two or more consecutive days OR
  • 0 degrees (wind chill) for one or more days


The following activities will be initiated upon notification from the Polk County Emergency Management Agency.

  • Emergency Shelters will offer weather amnesty (low barrier intake)
  • DART provides free rides to warming and cooling centers
  • Warming & Cooling Centers provide space to seek respite from the cold or heat - It is advised to call ahead to check on open/closed status, hours of operation, holidays, etc.

Warming and Cooling Centers

Extreme Temperature Centers (Warming or Cooling) – Local jurisdictions are expected to identify and designate heated and/or air conditioned facilities where persons can temporarily go during periods of extreme temperatures, difficult travel conditions and/or power outages to get out of dangerous weather conditions. Few and limited services are provided beyond what is normally available in that building. Extreme Temperature Centers may be open during the facility’s normal business hours or hours may be extended depending on the situation and need. Examples of extreme temperature centers could include malls, libraries, community centers, and senior centers.

For a full list of locations that have agreed to be identified as Warming and Cooling Centers, go HERE.

It is advised to call ahead to check on open/closed status, hours of operation, holidays, etc.

DART - Transportation

Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) provides free rides for the public to access warming and cooling centers in Polk County. Riders should tell bus drivers when they board that they want to go to the warming or cooling center. The driver will then transport riders to the nearest one. Paratransit-approved riders can also use DART's Paratransit services to reach the warming and cooling centers. 

For more information and route details go to DART's web siteRiders with questions or concerns about DART's services should contact DART Customer Service by calling 515-283-8100, emailing dart@ridedart.com, or visiting the Customer Service window at DART Central Station.

Emergency Support Function (ESF) #6: Mass Care and Sheltering

The Polk County Comprehensive Emergency Plan (CEP) Emergency Support Function (ESF) #6 – Mass Care and Sheltering, provides the foundation for emergency sheltering operations in Polk County, Iowa. It includes information on sheltering strategies and an operational overview for sheltering during a disaster in the county. It also includes strategies for use of extreme temperature centers for periods of extreme heat or extreme cold and those facilities providing relief to Polk County residents and visitors.

ESF#6-C: Extreme Temperature Plan can be found HERE.

Emergency Shelters

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Housing and Supportive Services

  • Anawim Housing — Manages permanent supportive housing for people who have experienced homelessness and live with a mental illness, substance use disorder, physical disability, HIV/AIDS or are fleeing domestic violence.
  • Children and Families of Iowa — Provides services related to domestic violence prevention and intervention, family support, early childhood development, mental health and substance abuse.
  • Iowa Homeless Youth Centers — Offers immediate survival needs for young people, including food and shelter, as well as case management for youth and young mothers to become self-sufficient.
  • Joppa — A Christian organization that provides food, water and other essentials to people who are unsheltered.
  • Primary Health Care — A federally qualified health center that is an entry point for people facing homelessness.
  • West Des Moines Human Services — Offers emergency assistance for rent and utilities, handyman services, youth recreational assistance, clothing and food assistance for low-income residents, the elderly and people who are disabled.
  • YMCA Supportive Housing — Helps people experiencing or at-risk of experiencing homelessness move into stable and secure permanent housing supplemented by supportive services.

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Homelessness Prevention Resources

  • The Beacon — A residential home for women in crisis.
  • Des Moines Municipal Housing Agency — Administers the Section 8 housing voucher program.
  • Home, Inc. — Provides emergency rental assistance and housing counseling.
  • IMPACT — Administers rent and utility assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This program will no longer take applications after Nov. 27, 2022.
  • Iowa Legal Aid — Legal services for low-income Iowans.
  • The Home Connection — Supportive housing in Iowa for homeless families with children.
  • Polk County General Assistance — Temporary assistance to low-income Polk County residents.
  • Veteran Affairs — Provides assistance to Polk County veterans and their families.
  • Des Moines Homeless Veterans Stand Down — Services ranging from employment assistance to benefit claims and shelter for veterans and their families facing homelessness

Content provided by the Des Moines Register.

Resources to Support Preparedness Efforts

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