Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.

FONT & AUDIO

MORE STORIES


Tent-dwelling Portlanders in Northwest lay low and benefit from the kindness of strangers to keep cool as afternoon temps soar inside their vinyl homes.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - At Northwest 16th and Raleigh Street, in the shade of the overpass, Jules Smith was visiting from her tent camp on Northeast Schuyler St. "I've got no shade over there so it's really bad," said Smith. A stranger dropped of a bunch of ice for the hosts' Yeti cooler as temps soared Thursday Aug. 12. Records show the city hit 102F at one point, probably at the Portland airport.

Portland's August heatwave didn't hit the heights on the thermometer.

On Thursday, August 12, it was 98 degrees in Northwest Portland instead of the expected 104. But it didn't feel that much different from 116 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of June. The air felt like a weighted blanket, only with a heating element in it, and the sky over the West Hills was hazy and smelled of wood smoke.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Robert Black moved his tent under a tree on Northwest Savier St. "There was a gentleman came by with six of seven Gatorades and a gallon of iced water," he said.Portlanders living on the streets seemed to be coping quietly. More could be seen sitting inside their tents than out on the sidewalk. In a small sample of interviews, people said random locals had been very generous in bringing them food, ice and water.

At Northwest 16th and Raleigh Street, in the shade of the overpass, there has been a stable sidewalk camp for a few months, with tents and cars. Jules Smith was visiting from her tent camp on Northeast Schuyler Street.

"I've got no shade over there, so it's really bad," said Smith. She said two people live in the Northwest 16th tent, one of them called Michelle, who has a car. "People have been coming by bringing ice every few days," said her friend Sara Conner, who was sitting on a lawn chair surrounded by homewares and food. The ice was in a fabric Yeti cooler. "People have been awesome," added Conner. "Some nice homeowners will come and bring ice and water. The city isn't doing anything, but the local people are."

Conner, who has an apartment on Northwest 23rd Avenue, was visiting the tent, too. Her apartment was hotter than outside because the bar below has a pizza oven whose chimney goes right through her wall.

Connor added, "On the last heatwave, people were incredible. I think we lived for almost a month on the food they dropped off."

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Robert Black moved his tent under a tree on Northwest Savier St. "There was a gentleman came by with six of seven Gatorades and a gallon of iced water," he said.
Robert Black had just moved his tent from under the same freeway overpass to under a tree on Northwest Savier Street. "There was a gentleman came by with six or seven Gatorades and a gallon of ice water," he said. Black said he hadn't seen any government people helping, but the locals were generous. He's from Oregon and is not used to the heat. Black's girlfriend, Secret (she hasn't told him her last name), came back from the laundromat.

Secret had picked up a flyer at the Northwest Library saying where the cooling centers were, and Black said they might go to one if the temperature went any higher. "It's pretty hot … there's a couple of times I might have passed out," he said.

Camping overlooking the I-405 at 23rd Avenue and Wilson Street, Saul Garcia said the heat had been "really bad, really bad." He has a tent plus a wood, fabric and cardboard shelter with a large bed inside. He opens the walls when it gets too hot.

"I get water from whatever place I can get it. I didn't see anyone around today, but I've been sleeping," Garcia said. He'd heard that the Navigation Center on Northwest Naito Parkway had sprinklers that people could play in. PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Tina and Matt Weimar arrived from Boise, Idaho two weeks ago and have been collecting trashin in Northwest Portland for the nonprofit Clean Street Solutions. People gave them water but they kept on working through the heat. "Look at this! It's Portland! It's supposed to be a bad-ass city,' said Matt. "They turned off all the faucets around here," he said of the industrial buildings. Garcia isn't used to triple-digit heat. He's originally from California but in 13 years in Oregon, "I got used to the cold weather, but not quite."

Garcia collects cans by day, aiming for the maximum of 144 cans per day he can take to Food Front. He said he was on the streets because child support payments wiped out his paycheck at $18 an hour.

It looks like a quiet spot away from trouble, but it isn't. Garcia had a large wound on his leg and another on his forearm, closed by metal staples. "I got stabbed by my neighbor," he said. His neighbor had two tents but kept sleeping in Garcia's home. They got into a fight, and the neighbor pulled a dagger. Court for them both is on Friday, and that is air-conditioned.

Tina Weimar was walking along with a rubber mat on her shoulder, with another woman carrying a five-gallon bucket of water at Northwest 20th Avenue and Upshaw. Her scalp was sweating through the shaved side of her head.

Weimar and her husband Matt Weimar arrived from Boise, Idaho, two weeks ago. "We got dropped off and got a tent. Someone helped us out," said Matt. They asked for help from a man. In return, they volunteered to pick up trash for his nonprofit, Clean Street Solutions, which has been very active in the neighborhood. They camp next to the CCS founder's large tent beside the freeway and bike path, and they clean every day.

"We're pretty much guard dogs for his stuff," said Matt.

"A church group came by this morning and gave us a case of water," said Tina. "And I think the City came through and picked up all the trash we'd piled up in bags."

Asked why they pick up trash, and in the 6 p.m. peak heat of the day, Matt said: "Look at this! It's Portland! It's supposed to be a bad-ass city. We're not from here, we're from Boise, and the locals are pissed off, all these homeless people, they don't care anymore," he said gesturing toward Slabtown.

As for the heat, it's worse than Idaho, but not enough to put them off Portland. They want to settle here.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Regina Stephens at Northwest Flanders and 9th Avenue in the Pearl District. She lives on the street. People have been giving her water, and she may go to Temple Bath Israel is it gets any hotter. Regina Stephens was lying on top of a sleeping bag on the sidewalk at Northwest Flanders and Ninth Avenue in the Pearl District. She lives on the street. She's a widow, grew up in Portland and Clackamas, and has two children she no longer sees.

Her sleeping bag came from the women's shelter Rose Haven. Thursday's heatwave wasn't too bad, but she would consider moving to the cooling center at Temple Beth Israel if it got any hotter on Friday.

She said she usually moves to a place where people can't see her at 4 a.m. to sleep.

"A gentleman gave me a real nice ice water, a few people have," said Stephens. She also got iced tea at Blanchett House. "I don't sweat much." Worse than the heat is the dust. She was surprised to learn there was smoke over the West Hills, obscured by the buildings around her.

"I like sleeping in the breeze," said Stephens. In the Park Blocks? "I'm on the curb right now. There really are no parks I can get to."


Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
971-204-7874
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow us on


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.

Go to top
JSN Time 2 is designed by JoomlaShine.com | powered by JSN Sun Framework