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Wilsonville residents share experiences amid record temperatures caused by heat dome

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - 'Raj Nuvvula holds his youngest daughter, Shravya, 2, right, as they watch 'Frozen II with his eldest daughter, Bravya, 9 1/2, at the Wilsonville Library while cooling off from the hot temperatures.

Records, they say, are meant to be broken.

In this case, the temperature in the Wilsonville area never may have exceeded 110 degrees before last week. And yet — due to a heat dome that covered the region in hot air — statistics climbed well above high marks in the Portland metro area for consecutive days June 27-28.

For Wilsonville residents, this meant fleeing to rivers and oceans, cranking up the air conditioning or visiting the Wilsonville Public Library and other cooling centers for relief.

Overall, the weather was merely tolerable for some while it proved excruciating for others. Air conditioning, it seemed, was the key factor.

Mary-Elizabeth Harper, an Old Town resident, was not so lucky in that respect. She used ceiling fans and copious bottles of water to keep cool but described the experience as "miserable." She also was sad to see some of her plants die.

"I've never experienced heat that high before. I come from California, and even in Michigan it was never like this," she said.

However a trip to Newport, where she felt the "cool breeze of the ocean and the wet sand," served as a nice reprieve.

"We found great relief at the beach," she said.

Ellie Furughi, a Villebois resident, invited her mother who did not have air conditioning over after she had a hard time sleeping the night before due to the heat. For a few days, they did not go outside and ate yogurt, cottage cheese and hummus to avoid cooking.

"We were the lucky ones because we had the air conditioning. I have no idea how others who didn't have AC survived this. We were relatively OK," she said.

Wilsonville City Council Kristin Akervall had air conditioning, but it broke the night of the last day of the heat wave. Luckily, she was visiting New York for the majority of the hot spell and spent that time continuously reminding her family to drink water.

"So, this morning it meant opening up the windows and doors and trying to let in as much cool air as possible," she wrote via email Tuesday, June 29. "Then closing them up and pulling the curtains closed. If we get too hot this afternoon, we will go do some errands and enjoy a store's AC for a quick break. And we will probably pick up more popsicles."

Katie Farrell, who lives along the Willamette River, was fortunate to have installed air conditioning just two weeks prior. And they invited a family over who needed a break from the heat to enjoy the warmer but still refreshing river.

"We could jump in there when we were too hot," she said.

Corner Coffee Shoppe owner Nancy Faubel provided customers a break from the heat with cool drinks and a comfortable setting. But when she got home, she also needed lots of water and fans to make circumstances more comfortable without anything else to quell the heat. She also kept blinds closed during the day before opening them at night.

"It was pretty miserable," she said.

While the Charbonneau community has a population that skews older, Charbonneau Country Club Manager Jim Meierotto said most people have air conditioning and just a few residents needed to hang out in the club's administrative building during the heat wave. Business mostly progressed as usual, he added.

Amid record-shattering temperatures that reached 113 in Wilsonville June 28, dozens of residents took refuge at the air-conditioned Wilsonville Public Library.

Steven Engelfriend, the library services manager, said between 30 and 35 people occupied the library throughout the day and that a steady flow of people congregated there over the weekend of June 26. In total, 164 people visited the library June 27 and 177 had visited by 5 p.m. June 28.

Engelfried said library-goers varied from families who stayed for just an hour or two to visitors who spent their whole day there. Some were on their laptops or the library computers, while others were reading to their kids in the children's room. The library didn't have furniture out the past few months in an effort to limit capacity, but put out tables and chairs for people over the weekend of the heat wave.

The building typically is not open Sundays or Mondays but was open to serve as a cooling center. Water was available to those who needed it.

"People have been glad to come in," Engelfried said.

Library Director Pat Duke said that while he did not see many people there over that weekend, those who did show up seemed like they definitely needed an escape from the heat.

"There was a daughter with an older mother. They clearly didn't have anywhere else to be. I'm going to guess they're there right now," said Duke, who was on vacation June 28.

On the police front, Wilsonville Police Chief Rob Wurpes said nothing out of the ordinary had happened during the heat wave and that the agency hadn't received as many medical calls as he expected prior to the weather event.

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