Just before Christmas Multnomah County and the City of Portland issued a state of emergency to alert people to the life-threatening temperatures that were forecasted in the coming days and to give the County the maximum flexibility to respond. With the return of spring’s warmth still months away, there is a good chance there will be more bouts with cold temperatures like that one. Here are some things to know when the mercury drops.
The County and City lead a group of agencies working together to support shelters when extreme weather occurs. City and County leaders meet daily, consulting experts to jointly determine when shelters will open and for how long using the most up-to-date forecast from the National Weather Service.
The four shelter locations are posted on Multnomah County’s Care for When It’s Cold page (multco.us/care-when-its-cold). All sites will welcome pets and will be accessible to people with disabilities. Free transportation to warming shelters will be available by calling 211 or by accessing TriMet during the emergency. TriMet will not turn away anyone traveling to a warm place who cannot afford to pay fare during the state of emergency. Riders should let their driver know they are headed to a warm place.
Additionally, Multnomah County’s 18 libraries (visit multcolib.org for locations and hours) are open for daytime warming and the County’s new Behavioral Health Resource Center, 333 SW Park Ave., is serving as a daytime warming center and helping people get into the severe weather shelters. The Joint Office of Homeless Services continues its enhanced crisis street outreach efforts, working with mutual aid groups and its contracted outreach providers to provide cold-weather survival gear and information about severe weather shelters.
Winter weather is especially dangerous for older adults, people with disabilities and anyone experiencing homelessness. Check on your neighbors: knock on their door or give them a call to ask if they need help. If you’re going to the store, ask if they need anything. If you are concerned about someone who is not dressed for the weather conditions, call the non-emergency response line (503.823.333) and request a welfare check. If someone outside is unsheltered and their life appears to be in danger, call 911.
211info.org provides up-to-date information on weather conditions, available resources, where to find the nearest available shelter and transportation options. If you do need to go out, the National Weather Service lists weather warnings, TriMet Alerts will list any service interruptions and ODOT TripCheck updates road conditions across Oregon. Make sure to dress warmly and plan for trips taking longer than usual.