Portland, Multnomah County better prepped for heat, they say
Portland and Multnomah County officials say they are better prepared for the high temperatures predicted this weekend, but still call on residents to look out for their family members, friends and neighbors.
"We must act with urgency to ensure community safety as extreme heat becomes the new normal," said Mayor Ted Wheeler. "I ask all Portlanders to check in with family, friends and neighbors this week, especially those living alone and without air conditioning, and share where they can go to keep cool."
At least 115 people are suspected to have died in Oregon during the late June heat wave when temperatures exceeded 100 for three days. Most of the deaths were in the Multnomah County.
With temperatures predicted to hit near 100 degrees on Thursday and Friday, July 29 and 30, city and county officials announced steps to help residents survive it.
Portland officials said air-conditioned places will be open for the community, including Portland Parks & Recreation community centers and the downtown Portland Building.
The following locations will open this Thursday and Friday from noon to 9 p.m.:
• The Portland Building, 1120 S.W. Fifth Ave.
• The Matt Dishman Community Center, 77 N.E. Knott St.
• The Charles Jordan Community Center, 9009 N. Foss Ave.
Portland officials said they are also working with community partners to offer pop-up cooling spaces in neighborhoods, including culturally-specific resources. The city is working with Multnomah County to conduct direct outreach to houseless individuals to distribute water, electrolyte packets and other cooling items as well as activating its network of over 2,200 Neighborhood Emergency Team volunteers to help with heat-related efforts.
Also, during a Wednesday, July 28, press conference, Chris Voss, the county's director of emergency management, said a big part of the plan is adding more places for people to cool off.
"We're putting locations closer in the community, more cooling centers, more libraries staying open later, opening up additional cooling centers, trying to embed them in the community where they're closer to folks that might need them," he said.
Voss said this is a change from the extreme heat wave, when fewer cooling centers were open. He also said the county is picking locations accessible by bus.
Those who need help getting to a cooling center can call 211 and arrange a ride — a service that will be available 24/7 during the coming heat wave.
The city-county Joint Office of Homeless Services said it handed out more than 65,000 water bottles and sent outreach teams to check on people experiencing homelessness in all parts of the city during June's heat wave. The office plans to do the same this week, and county workers have already started stocking water bottles and electrolyte packets at their supply center in downtown.
Denis Theriault with JOHS urged community members to look out for one another.
"That goes not just for folks who are experiencing homelessness, but folks in your lives who are outside, you know, in apartments, somewhere else," Theriault said. "We all need everyone to check on our neighbors. That's the thing we really saw would've made such a difference last time — and it can make a difference this time, too."
Additional information is available at multco.us/help-when-its-hot and publicalerts.org/extreme-heat.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune and contributed to this story.
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.