PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new study from Portland State University said the most extreme effects of climate could have a profound effect on Portland residents who are least able to afford it.
The PSU study found extreme heat and more frequent flooding expected to accompany a warming planet will most acutely affect low income neighborhoods in East Portland.
The study funded by the National Science Foundation is designed to help cities prepare for extreme weather events. Though there is work to be done, there are signs of progress.
The Foster Flood Plain Natural area at 110th and SE Foster is a great example.
The city of Portland bought and removed dozens of houses that used to stand at that spot. Now during extreme high water events, Johnson Creek is allowed to flow into this 63-acre site that has historically served as a flood plain.
It’s a natural, harmless place for water to go instead roaring down Johnson Creek and flooding less affluent neighborhoods living downstream.
“So that means those restoration efforts can be effective but I think there is still some room for the city to do those activities more in other places,” said PSU geography professor Heejun Chang.
Chang, who worked on the study, also points to less equitable distribution of green space in East Portland to help absorb extreme summer heat.
His work is a helping hand for city planners to make sure the most extreme effects of climate change don’t fall disproportionately on people who can least afford it.