Heat Vulnerable Residents Contacted During Heat Wave

Multnomah County and the City of Portland will reopen three daytime cooling centers Wednesday afternoon as temperatures are expected to approach 100 degrees for a fourth consecutive day.

Although temperatures have receded from record-setting highs earlier this week, health officials warn that you shouldn’t let your guard down.

Nighttime temperatures have remained warmer than usual, and heat risk remains high. And heat’s most harmful effects are cumulative — especially as a significant heat event lingers.

It’s just as important today to check on loved ones and neighbors. Even a short break from the heat — going to a cooling center or a library, finding shade, or accessing cooling supplies distributed from the County and the Joint Office of Homeless Services’ outreach warehouse — can make a difference. 

To ensure vulnerable people are being contacted, the Department of County Human Services’ Regional Health and Human Services Contact Center has continued direct outreach to hundreds of seniors, clients and property managers.

Beginning on Friday, Aug. 11, the call center identified and reached out to roughly 570 unique property owners or managers, speaking with or leaving messages for 448. The call center’s list was developed by the Multnomah County Health Department and the Portland Housing Bureau, including properties in urban heat islands and with tenants who might be more at risk of heat-related impacts because of their income status and/or age. The County also sent 631 emails with additional information and resources to share with residents.

On Monday, Aug. 14, and Tuesday, Aug. 15, the call center also reached out to 822 households who receive long-term services and support, speaking with 440 and leaving messages with 295. Of those households, 326 speak languages other than English, representing 31 total languages. 

Brendon Haggerty, manager of the Health Department’s Healthy Homes & Communities program, is urging everyone to find an air-conditioned space for even a few hours of relief — whether they are housed or houseless.

People are often reluctant to turn on air conditioning because of the expense. “Air conditioning is life saving,’’ Haggerty said. “It's worth the extra electricity cost during an emergency." 

Here are resources for people who need help with costs:

Cooling centers reopen Wednesday; more than 300 people found respite Tuesday

The three daytime cooling centers that will open again from 1 to 8 p.m. today are:

  • Multnomah County East, 600  N.E. 8th St., Gresham, staffed by Multnomah County employees.
  • Cook Plaza, 19421  S.E. Stark St., Gresham, staffed by Cultivate  Initiatives.
  • Old Town Cooling Center, 435  N.W. Glisan St., Portland, staffed by Do  Good Multnomah.

Lloyd Center will continue to serve as an additional cooling space where the public can come inside and cool off during regular mall hours from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In addition to these sites, many other cool spaces — including Multnomah County libraries, as well as locations operated by community partners — are open throughout the community and in downtown Portland. 

People who don’t have access to a cool place should strongly consider spending time at a cooling center or a cool space listed on this interactive map of libraries, splash pads and other sites.

The three daytime cooling centers will provide food and water in safe, air-conditioned places to hang out. No one will be turned away, and pets are welcome. TriMet will transport anyone going to a cooling space for free. Anyone needing additional transportation help should call 2-1-1.

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, a cumulative total of 335 people found respite at the three cooling centers, up from more than 220 on Monday and 120 on Sunday.

Health officials say 911 calls have been elevated, with close to 400 again on Tuesday, but with 22 specifically related to heat — still short of the level seen during the 2021 heat dome. Emergency department visits are below the levels seen during the extended July 2022 heat wave, health officials also said.

The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Program on Tuesday, Aug. 15, reported it is investigating a suspected heat death that occurred Monday, Aug. 14.

The County also reminds people seeking relief in rivers, lakes and streams to stay safe. Toxic algae has been detected on the Willamette River in Portland and waterways at Sauvie Island. The areas affected by the bloom are changing — stretching as of late Tuesday from the Ross Island Lagoon to Cathedral Park. Please avoid swimming and high-speed water activities, such as water skiing or power boating, in those areas.

If you are unsure about the safety of water, when in doubt, stay out. Learn more about how to swim and splash safely.

Multnomah County and the City of Portland both declared states of emergency effective Sunday, Aug. 13, that continue this week, allowing County departments and City bureaus increased flexiblity to respond.

Source: Multnomah County

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