Nesha Johnson sits in her car, door wide open, staring at her house. With the temperatures in the 90s this week, her home is a hotbox and she is in no hurry to go inside.
"It's hot as hell in my house," she said.
Johnson's duplex in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul doesn't have central air conditioning. She looked for a cheap window unit -- but no luck.
"Yeah, I've went to Walmart, Target, K-mart," she said. "I even went to the thrift stores and they didn't have any."
The high temperatures and humidity have forced some schools to close, and kept visitors away from the State Fair. For many Minnesotans, it's been a week to stay home and take refuge in air conditioning. But people like Johnson and many of her neighbors don't have that choice.
The cheapest window air conditioner she could find sells for $125 - an unaffordable option.
"Our rent is $850, so with a light bill, and a gas bill, and buying food, we don't have room for an air conditioner right now," she said.
It's been a rough week, but Johnson has a strategy: Go swimming, and wear as little as possible.
About three blocks away, her cousin Onsha Johnson walks around, avoiding his steamy house. He tries to visit friends or relatives with air conditioning -- and corner stores. But owners have caught on.
"They be like, 'you can't just stay here and use my AC,' because everybody knows what you're trying to do," he said. "You know, a leacher, an air leacher. You know what that is? You see 'em in there sweating. I mean, I do it a lot, but like I said, 'I'll give you a dollar, I'm going to buy a bag of chips and a juice.' "
For Onsha Johnson, the problem isn't just the cost of the air conditioner, but the higher electricity bill that comes with it. As he sees, that all adds up to an unmanageable price.
"That's a luxury in my eyes," he said. "I got bills, you know."
That word -- luxury -- comes up repeatedly when people talk about air conditioning in Frogtown.
Marcia Tyner seeks relief for hours at the Rondo Library with her four-year-old daughter, reading "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed," over and over. Tyner said she could afford an air conditioner if she had to, but her budget is tight.
"I mean, I have a little savings, but it's not really a necessity," she said. "We'll survive without the air conditioner, because in a couple of weeks it might be 50 degrees. Who knows? That would just be a waste at this time in the summer."
For many in the neighborhood, surviving without an air conditioner is an inconvenience. But emergency management officials say older people, those with chronic health problems, and the very young could be at risk in the heat -- especially when it doesn't abate at night.
Judson Freed, director of emergency management and homeland security for Ramsey County, is monitoring the situation closely. He expects the weather to moderate before long.
"If this was going to be something like you've heard about in Europe, or even in Chicago a few years back, where we're looking at a month of extremely high temperatures, particularly at night, at that point we have plans to open formal cooling locations where people could go," he said.
For now, he encourages people to take refuge in public libraries and shopping malls. Both Ramsey and Hennepin Counties have online lists of air-conditioned places-- including recreation centers and Salvation Army cooling stations.
Freed is most worried about people who are homebound -- and pleads with Minnesotans to check on their neighbors. But he said people in the Twin Cities tend to fare better in heat waves than in places like Chicago, and he has a hunch why.
"For a large number of people they feel safe enough at home to at least open their windows and put the fan there to blow the hot air out," he said. "Whereas in some of these other communities where people don't feel as safe, they will literally lock their windows and not open them no matter how hot it gets. Our folks here have a tendency, unscientifically, to be a little more willing to do that."
In Frogtown, Nesha Johnson and her neighbors found temporary relief from the heat down the street. Someone broke open the fire hydrant earlier this week -- probably illegally.
"We all went in," she said. "It was about 50 people out there in the hydrant.
"I don't know who opened it, but thank you."