PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the ongoing severe cold and wintry weather, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek declared a state of emergency in Multnomah County.

Kotek issued the declaration around 7 p.m. Saturday after requests from Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and a recommendation from the Oregon Department of Emergency Management.

This week-long emergency declaration “ensures state resources, personnel, and equipment can be activated to complement critical local resources as this situation progresses,” the governor said in a statement.

This allows ODEM to coordinate resources to be deployed with the Oregon Health Authority and ODOT along with other state agencies.

Shelters open

With more snow on the way, Multnomah County opened emergency warming shelters Saturday night.

Seven sites in Multnomah County opened at 8 p.m., with one new warming shelter at Cook Plaza in Gresham replacing Imago Dei Church, which was a previously open shelter.

On Friday night, county officials shared that 849 people used shelters and 740 of them received a free ride.

Volunteers at a temporary shelter in Portland during a snowstorm, February 24, 2023 (KOIN)
Volunteers at a temporary shelter in Portland during a snowstorm, February 24, 2023 (KOIN)

“Last night I think we were close to 900 people or so. So, it was quite a large event for us. I think it was the second busiest night that we’ve had since I’ve been here in my 7-and-a-half years,” said Chris Voss, the Multnomah County Emergency Management Director.

He added the ongoing winter weather creates unusual challenges.

“If you started a marathon and you were at your 20th mile and someone just was like, ‘Oh, we’re going to add another 20 miles,’ that’s kind of what this feels like at this point, where we now see several more days where we’re trying to put things into operations,” Voss told KOIN 6 News.

Officials said that anyone in need of a ride should call 211 or take TriMet for free transportation, they won’t turn anyone away.

People at a temporary shelter in Portland during a snowstorm, February 25, 2023 (KOIN)
People at a temporary shelter in Portland during a snowstorm, February 25, 2023 (KOIN)

“It’s a range of residents that need support,” said Multnomah County’s Jill Punches. “People that live in their cars, people with families, people navigating a new country and a new language. It’s for everybody.

Multnomah County officials and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler put out a call Friday for more volunteers to keep shelters open, and all the counties can still use more help.

“Shelters are great, they will keep you warm, we will keep you fed, but they’re sometimes not as comfortable as a friend’s couch,” Voss said. “And so, any bit that the community can do to help support us as this event continues to go on for several days is much appreciated.”

Multnomah County shelters

  • Arbor Lodge: 7440 North Denver Avenue, Portland
  • Salvation Army: 5325 North Williams Avenue, Portland
  • East Portland Community Center: 740 Southeast 106th Avenue, Portland
  • Charles Jordan Community Center: 9009 North Foss Avenue, Portland
  • Friendly House: 1737 Northwest 26th Avenue, Portland
  • Lloyd Center: 988 Lloyd Center, Portland
  • Cook Plaza:19415 Southeast Stark Street, Gresham

Washington County warming shelters are remaining open 24 hours until the weather event ends.

Washington County shelters

  • The Salvation Army Building: 1440 Southeast 21st Avenue, Hillsboro
  • Beaverton Community Center: 12350 Southwest 5th Street Beaverton

Two Clackamas County warming shelters are also opening Saturday night.

Clackamas County shelters

  • Molalla Hope Center: 209 Kennel Avenue, Molalla (open at 6 p.m.)
  • Zoar Lutheran Church Shelter: 190 Southwest Third Avenue, Canby (already open)