PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Oregon Office of Emergency Management held a press conference Wednesday about a second heat wave coming this week. Local officials said they are taking steps now to protect the public.
More than 100 Oregonians died as a result of the extreme heat last month when temperatures in Portland broke records two days in a row, topping off at 116 degrees. In Multnomah County, the heat accounted for the deaths of 67 people – the highest number of heat-related fatalities in the state.
Current forecasts don’t expect temperatures to be as hot, but Portland will be under a heat advisory tomorrow through Saturday and the county is preparing accordingly.
“A lot of these things are improvements we just made in the last few weeks that we want to utilize for this event, even though we recognize it’s not quite as significant,” said Chris Voss, Multnomah County’s director of emergency management.
A lot of the people who died during the extreme heat were elderly and lived alone. Voss indicated the county plans to call landlines to warn people and provide information.
He said a big part of the plan consists in adding more places for people to cool off.
“We’re putting locations closer in the community, more cooling centers, more libraries staying open later, opening up additional cooling centers, trying to embed them in the community where they’re closer to folks that might need them,” he said.
Voss said this is a change from the extreme heat wave when fewer cooling centers were open. He also said the county is picking locations accessible by bus.
Those who need help getting to a cooling center can call 211 and arrange a ride – a service available 24/7 during the heat wave, Voss said.
The Joint Office of Homeless Services said it handed out more than 65,000 water bottles and sent outreach teams to check on people experiencing homelessness in all parts of the city during June’s heat wave. The office plans to do the same this week, and county workers have already started stocking water bottles and electrolyte packets at their supply center in downtown.
Denis Theriault with JOHS urged community members to look out for one another.
“That goes not just for folks who are experiencing homelessness, but folks in your lives who are outside, you know, in apartments, somewhere else,” Theriault said. “We all need everyone to check on our neighbors. That’s the thing we really saw would’ve made such a difference last time – and it can make a difference this time, too.”