Libraries, convention center among cooling centers opening up
More public facilities have been identified as cooling centers as temperatures are predicted to climb to dangerous triple-digits levels over the weekend.
"Heat is such a torment. It's hard on your body and it's hard on people emotionally," said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines. "Even just for a few hours in a cooling center can help people cope with the heat."
The newest facilities are five Multnomah County branch libraries. They will be open noon to 8 p.m., Friday, June 25, through Monday, June 28, at the following locations:
• Capitol Hill Library: 10723 SW Capitol Hwy
• Gresham Library: 385 NW Miller Ave.
• Kenton Library: 8226 N Denver Ave.
• Holgate Library: 7905 SE Holgate Blvd.
• Midland Library: 805 SE 122nd Ave.
In addition, TriMet has announced it will not turn any passengers away for a lack of fares.
The Portland-Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services previously announced the opening three public cooling centers. According to Multnomah County's website, the centers will be open 24 hours a day starting at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 25, through at least Monday, June 28, at the following Portland locations:
• Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
• Sunrise Center, 18901 E. Burnside St.
• Arbor Lodge, 1952 N. Lombard St.
"That's about four days of cooling centers that are going to be open. We may add more sites as needed. That's for everyone though, so folks that are unsheltered can go to those places. Folks who are in a warm apartment that windows don't open and you need a place to be during the day, you can go there too," Denis Theriault, the Communications Coordinator for The Joint Office and Multnomah County, told KOIN 6 News.
Homeless people or anyone who needs transportation support should dial 211. In addition, mobile outreach teams are prepared to meet homeless campers where they are on the street to help them keep cool.
"We've been buying extra water bottles, cooling towels, misting bottles, electrolyte packets, Gatorade packets and things like that that we can make into kits. And we've been doing that for the past week and a half knowing that we were going to get to some rough weather. We didn't know it was going to be this bad, but we knew it was going to be bad enough so we started that work a while ago," Theriault said.
KOIN 6 News visited various homeless camps around town to see what they were doing to prepare for the coming heat on Tuesday, June 22. A reporter brought with them bottles of water, socks and masks to give out to anyone we talked to who was in need of some basic amenities or dehydrated.
Charles Dunaway, a homeless neighbor of Northeast Portland, said he's planning on beating the heat by using a lot of cold water, wringing out rags "and you know, bird bath," he added with a chuckle. "Hard to get to a shower, too."
One homeless person in Southwest Portland who was asking motorists backed up in traffic for change near a major thoroughfare told KOIN 6 News he was pretty acclimated to the heat, having lived in places like Arizona and Nevada.
"I didn't think that I could take the heat as good as I have been lately. But I change my schedule up so that I sleep like two four-hour periods or three two-hour periods. And try to get as much done physically, early," said Frederick Allen.
"That's why we're all getting canopies. 'Cause it keeps it really, really, almost cold in there," added another homeless camper living in a tent in Southwest Portland who wanted to remain anonymous. "But it's keeping me on a good sleep schedule. The sun shines in my face at 7 a.m."
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.