‘Nicest people I’ve ever met’: Gresham residents escape heat


The Sunrise Center in Gresham provides 24-hour cooling space

Fans and A.C. units helped people beat the heat at a 24-hr cooling space at the Sunrise Center in Gresham. August 13, 2021 (KOIN).

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — Residents in Gresham are trying to stay cool in triple-digit heat during the third day of another region-wide heat wave this summer.

The Sunrise Center at 18901 E. Burnside St. was one of many cooling oases in the Portland metro area open 24-hours for residents.

A mobile shower truck is used to help people in Gresham get relief during a heatwave. August 13, 2021 (KOIN).

“We are providing a safe place for people to come, get cool. We’re providing plenty of hydration. We’re providing showers, clothing donations, hygiene, we have misters,” said Y-Ishia Rosborough, the Executive Director of Cultivate Initiatives, a Portland nonprofit aimed at helping marginalized communities that is partnering with the Sunrise Center and Multnomah County to provide the cooling space services. 

Outside the Sunrise Center was a large mobile shower unit powered by a generator where community members got cleaned up and refreshed, along with a table of donated clothes. 

Inside the center were cots where people could get some rest in the air-conditioned and fan-cooled air. There were also snacks, meals and water available. 

Rosborough said they were serving about 24 people at the center when KOIN 6 News visited Friday afternoon, but they’ve seen about 200 pass through since the heatwave began on Wednesday. A handful of people have been staying at the center since the beginning.

Y-Ishia Rosborough, the Executive Director of Cultivate Initiatives, a Portland nonprofit aimed at helping marginalized communities, partnered with the Sunrise Center in Gresham and Multnomah County to provide cooling services and a 24-hour respite amid the heatwave. August 13, 2021 (KOIN).

One man who spoke with KOIN 6 News said he came to the center to escape the heat of his third story, westward-facing apartment with no A.C. He said last night at 3 a.m., his apartment was 89 degrees. 

“It’s probably some of the nicest people that I’ve ever met. To the point of pedestrians walking down the street, hey would you like some water, would you like anything?” said Colby Pennington. He added that he believes while the county could do a lot more to respond to heatwaves, he thinks places like the Sunrise Center being available is likely saving lives. 

The Sunrise Center will remain open as a cooling space for 24-hours until Sunday, August 15, at 9 a.m. 

You can find a complete list of cooling centers around Portland here

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