PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Portland opened three cooling centers and sent emergency alerts to residents on Thursday as a heatwave settled into the area.
The splash pad in Colonel Summers Park is a popular place for families to cool off. The Rogers family told KOIN 6 News their kids had been asking to visit the water feature all week.
“This is a perfect public space, cool water,” said Allen Rogers. “It’s a great place to hang out — the shade, the kids love playing in the water — it’s perfect.”
For others trying to escape the heat, three new cooling centers are helping people like Jennie Kamau find rest. Kamau lives out of her car and said staying cool is difficult, even at night. She considers herself a disability rights advocate and said a lack of safe housing can become a matter of life and death during extreme heat.
But in the Pacific Northwest, those who do have housing often don’t have air conditioning.
“We know a lot of people don’t have AC up here and that can be really tough,” said Rogers. “We hope this doesn’t persist for the northwest, it’s kind of a shame but people are doing what they can, I guess.”
The three cooling centers are located at the Charles Jordan Community Center, the Matt Dishman Community Center and the Portland Building and will be open daily from noon to 9 p.m. Pets are welcome at the Portland Building and the Charles Jordan Community Center. Visitors are required to wear masks inside the buildings. Free masks will be provided to those who need them.
In a statement Thursday night, TriMet officials said they won’t enforce fares if you’re headed to a cooling center. “Effective immediately, you won’t be denied a ride or get a ticket if you are going to a cooling center,” they said.
MAX trains often run slower in high heat.
“When it gets hot, we slow trains through some areas to keep them moving without damaging the system. Minor delays may happen on MAX Green and Orange lines when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees, as trains will decrease their speed in some areas. All MAX lines will slow in high speed areas when temperatures climb past 100 degrees,” they said.
Riders should check TriMet Alerts for the latest information.
Portland officials believe the extreme heat events are becoming the new normal. City leaders and residents alike will have to start planning accordingly.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler signed an emergency declaration due to the extreme heat that will go into effect at midnight on Friday and remain in effect through Saturday. This will free additional resources in the effort to protect people by opening community centers and other public buildings to be used as cooling centers, provide transport to cooling centers and provide necessities like water and misting stations.
Also on Thursday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued an emergency declaration for 23 counties to ensure more resources were available to respond to high temperatures forecasted for the state.
“As Oregon faces another high heat event, it’s important that we make available all needed resources to assist every level of government helping Oregonians stay safe and healthy,” Brown said in a statement.