Kotek Increases State's Response To Storm

Photo: Ford, Brad

Governor Tina Kotek announced that she has directed the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Public Health Division, the Oregon Department of Emergency Management (OEM), and the Oregon Department of Human Services Office of Resiliency and Emergency Management (ODHS-OREM) to employ additional resources to aid in the state’s response to extreme winter storm conditions.

“Over the last few days, state employees and countless local responders have worked around the clock and volunteered their time to support their fellow Oregonians in need as frigid temperatures and winter storm conditions left thousands without power and at risk for medical emergencies,” Governor Kotek said. “I want to thank everyone across the state who continue to help those in need. In times of crisis, I’m always inspired by how Oregonians step up to take care of one another.

“As severe winter weather conditions and the potential for long-term power outages continue, my office and state agencies will continue to support local jurisdictions and provide updates and resources to keep individuals and families safe. If you don’t feel safe at home or need to know where your nearest warming center is, please call 211. They will help get you the information you need to reach a safe place to stay warm.”

The State Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) has been activated since Friday in response to the extreme weather conditions across Oregon. Governor Kotek has also directed the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division to deploy SERV-OR volunteers to provide medical care in warming shelters across the state. SERV-OR is OHA’s statewide roster of licensed physicians, nurses, pharmacists, emergency medical technicians, and others who have registered to volunteer in response to public health emergencies. SERV-OR volunteers help to take pressure off the health care delivery system. It is estimated nearly 200 medical professionals have expressed interest in volunteering at warming shelters around the state during the winter storm.

Over the past weekend, ODHS-OREM coordinated a hotline that connected state employees with nearby warming shelters in need of support. So far, more than 170 state employees have volunteered to serve Oregonians in shelters across the state, and 112 have been assigned to open shelters across 19 counties. Anyone who wants to volunteer at a local warming shelter can use this link to sign up. Additionally, ODHS-OREM activated 211info to begin 24/7 operations to support warming center efforts statewide.

To date, ODHS-OREM has provided more than 800 meals for 535 people and is managing two warming shelters (the Portland State Office Building in Portland and the Malheur County Fairgrounds Shelter in Ontario), as well as supporting more than 100 shelters managed by cities, counties, and non-profits in 19 counties across Oregon. The fairgrounds shelter marks the first time Malheur County has opened an emergency warming shelter.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been running around 400 snow plows throughout the past weekend, with crews working to clear state highways 24/7. The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE), within their Emergency Support Function (ESF) 12 role, has been working to monitor and coordinate in case of fuel shortage for local communities throughout the storms.

The Oregon State Police (OSP) has been working 24/7 to ensure that motorists are operating safely on roads compromised by weather, provide resources and aid to people outdoors, and have provided multiple police escorts to public utilities traveling to restore power, including the installation of a generator at PeaceHealth Cottage Grove Community Medical Center.

The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has been continuously monitoring the response to electric outages. Utility line crews are working around the clock, often in treacherous conditions, to get service restored, but there is damage to many providers' systems that require pole replacement which can slow restoration.

Source: Oregon Governor's Office

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