State of Emergency declared for heat in Oregon, Portland, Mult Co

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Triple-digit heat likely for days beginning Wednesday

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a State of Emergency ahead of forecasted high temperatures this week.

The order opens up emergency resources and funding across the state. It applies from August 10 through August 20.

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has also been told to activate the state’s Emergency Coordination Center to coordinate essential protective measures.

Portland and Multnomah County also declared a State of Emergency ahead of the forecasted high temps. The county’s order lasts from August 11 – 16, and the city’s is from August 11 – 15.

“This tool gives us the flexibility to respond to the heat wave and to alert everyone that heat is dangerous especially for isolated older adults, people who work outdoors, children and pets,’’ said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “There can be no doubt after June that extreme heat can kill and we are treating these events like the health hazard they are.’’

Meanwhile, Portland General Electric has issued a reminder to all its customers ahead of the expected triple-digit heatwave: prepare, and be ready for potential power outages.

The electric company said it, too, has been preparing for high demand on the grid as people try to stay cool. PGE will use technology that can predict distribution problems before they can arise, but the company asked customers to remain vigilant, report outages, and check on neighbors.

There will be more outdoor cooling locations available than in the June heat wave, including splash pads, misting stations and fountains. Portland city pools were closed in the June heat wave and city officials told KOIN 6 News closures could happen again if the extreme heat endangers employees and visitors. But, officials said, the Portland city pools will be open on Wednesday.

Four libraries will be open with extended hours to keep people cool during the hottest hours of the day. Those libraries are the Central library in downtown Portland plus the branches in Holgate, Midland and Gresham.

Multiple 24-hour cooling shelters will also be available. County officials are still working out the details, which are now more complicated because of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

“Public health has advisde we want at least 110 square feet per person in these 24-hour shelters,” said Multnomah County Chief Operating Officer Serena Cruz. “That is what we are working for, looking at another option further east,” but nothing is finalized at this time.

More than 40 outreach groups are out on the streets providing information and cooling kits with water to the most vulnerable. Some of the homeless who spoke with KOIN 6 News said they don’t feel comfortable leaving their belongings, so many are adding insulation and reflective blankets hoping it will help them during this August heat wave.

Within the past two months, multiple heatwaves have impacted the region. Several weeks ago, consecutive-day records were shattered as a heatwave brought temperatures of 116 degrees to Portland.

Multnomah County officials announced that 71 people were suspected to have died as a result of the late-June heatwave. In Oregon, officials said more than 100 died.

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