Update June 29, 4:45 pm:
The Midland, Capitol Hill, Gresham, Kenton, Holgate, Gregory Heights, Woodstock, and Rockwood library branches will be open as places to cool down through Saturday, July 3. Hours vary by branch. All library branches will be closed July 4.
Multnomah County Friends on SE Stark will not be open as a cooling center Tuesday, June 29. The Oregon Convention Center, Arbor Lodge Shelter, and Sunrise Center will continue to act as cooling centers 24 hours per day until Wednesday, June 30.
Update June 28, 9:20 am:
The Oregon Convention Center, Sunrise Center, and Arbor Lodge Shelter cooling centers will be open until 9 am on Wednesday, June 30.
A fourth cooling center at Multnomah County Friends on SE Stark Street has opened and will serve people Monday, June 28, from noon to 9 pm, and Tuesday, June 29, from noon to 5 pm.
Update June 27, 3:45 pm:
TriMet confirmed on Twitter that the agency will not be enforcing fares during the heatwave.
We are not turning away anyone who is unable to pay fare during this extreme weather. However, there are delays on our system due to the high temperatures — if you have to travel right now, check https://t.co/ai0Fty2DDd.
— TriMet (@trimet) June 27, 2021
Update June 27, 3 pm:
Calls to 2-1-1 are being answered again. The phone system now offers an option for cooling center and heatwave-related resources. Calls will be answered 8 am to 11 pm daily through the severe weather event.
All three county cooling centers will now be open until 9 pm on Tuesday, June 29. The most recent list of cooling center locations and hours can be found here.
Update June 27, 12 pm:
Multnomah County officials are currently working to solve an issue with the 2-1-1 information hotline.
After learning that calls to the hotline were not being answered Sunday morning, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury directed senior managers at 2-1-1 to forward calls to Multnomah County's COVID call center, a county spokesperson told the Mercury. The transition to forward the calls is currently in progress. This story will be updated when the transfer is complete.
Additionally, it is currently unclear if TriMet is requiring fare. Multnomah County announced Friday that the transit agency "will not turn away anyone looking to escape the heat if they don’t have money for their fare," but the agency Tweeted Saturday that fare would be collected as usual. The Mercury has reached out to the agency and this story will be updated.
Hello, TriMet did not release information stating that fare would not be collected and we are maintaining normal operating procedures at this time. However, rides will be free July 3rd - 5th. ^VLhttps://t.co/vXoSNBWZxK
— TriMet Rider Support (@trimethelp) June 26, 2021
Multnomah County has also expanded its library cooling centers. The Capitol Hill, Gregory Heights, Gresham, Holgate, Hollywood, Kenton, Midland, Rockwood, and Woodstock libraries will be open as cooling centers from 12 to 8 pm through Tuesday, June 29. Free water is available at all library locations throughout Multnomah County. A map of the library branches can be found here.
Update June 27, 11 am:
Calling 2-1-1 is currently unavailable. It's currently unclear if 2-1-1 will be available later today.
Update June 24, 12 pm:
Multnomah County’s cooling centers will be open 24 hours, starting 1 pm on Friday, June 25 through at least Monday, June 28. The cooling centers, located at the Oregon Convention Center, Sunrise Center, and Arbor Lodge Shelter, will be open to people and their pets. The centers will provide water, snacks, meals, chairs, sleeping mats, and blankets. Attendees can bring their own books, games, and comfort items. Pets must be in a kennel or on a leash and Multnomah County Animal Services can provide pet supplies including bedding, crates, and litter boxes.
In addition to the cooling centers, the Capitol Hill, Gresham, Kenton, Holgate, and Midland library branches will be open from noon to 8 pm June 25 through June 28. Anyone who needs assistance traveling to a cooling center or library branch should call 2-1-1.
TriMet will also not turn away anyone who is looking to escape the heat on an air conditioned bus, even if the rider cannot pay the fare.
In addition to unhoused Portlanders, officials are concerned about people who live in buildings without air conditioning, particularly those on the upper levels of apartment complexes.
County Health Officer Jennifer Vines encouraged people in apartment complexes without air conditioning to find a room in their building that may be cooler, make a plan with another tenant to check on each other, and consider spending the hottest hours of the day at a cooling center.
For updates to cooling center locations and hours, visit Help for When it’s Hot.
Multnomah County will open cooling centers at the Oregon Convention Center, Sunrise Center, and a county-owned building in Arbor Lodge this weekend to help unhoused Portlanders escape the extreme heat wave. The centers will be open from 1 to 9 pm beginning Friday, June 25, and extend through at least Monday, June 28.
Masks will be required in the cooling centers, but will only be required once people are cool and can tolerate breathing with their mask on, according to county spokesperson Kate Yeiser. Yeiser said the centers will be monitoring capacity for COVID safety, but no one will be turned away. The county is still exploring adding additional cooling center options.
Portland will experience temperatures over 100 degrees—possibly up to 110—on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday due to a heatwave throughout the Western states. This heatwave is abnormally dangerous because the overnight temperatures will remain around 70 degrees, county officials said in a press release.
“The research we have shows it’s those nighttime lows that are really important to health,” said Brendon Haggerty, interim supervisor for Multnomah County Health Department’s Healthy Homes and Communities program. “People rely on those temperatures to recover and to cool down their homes. But nights are not going to provide the relief we might normally get.”
County Health Officer Jennifer Vines called the heat “life-threatening” and urged everyone to find someplace cool to spend time in the coming days. If Portlanders have an air conditioned space, Vines said sharing that space with others is more important than observing COVID precautions.
“For people who already have somewhere cool, their job is to reach out to other people,” Vines said. “COVID precautions are important for people who aren’t fully vaccinated, but right now those precautions are secondary.”
Anyone that needs transportation assistance to get to a cooling center can call 2-1-1. If Portlanders encounter someone outside in the heat who appears disoriented or confused, they should offer to help that person move to a cool space and call 9-1-1, as those are the symptoms of heat stroke. Other symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature, hot dry skin or sweating, loss of coordination, and a throbbing headache.
Just like last summer, the pandemic has shuttered typical air conditioned buildings for unhoused people like public libraries, senior centers, and homeless service day-centers. Some library locations are open to the public, but patrons are required to reserve a time to browse. The Joint Office of Homeless Services will be handing out hot-weather supply kits, which include water, cooling towels, sunscreen, and electrolytes, at its downtown location. Outreach workers will also be visiting houseless camps to distribute those supplies to vulnerable people. The Blanchet House is also accepting donations of lightly-used water bottles that will be sanitized, filled, and distributed with the organization’s regular food service.
For people who do have shelter but are still looking for ways to cool down, all outdoor public pools are now open for the summer—you can make a reservation to swim with a group of up to six people here. Additionally, the city’s public splash pads opened earlier this month and a complete map can be found here.
The county also recommends avoiding turning on the oven or stove during the heat, opening doors and windows during the coolest part of the night, and making cool packs by filling a sock with rice and placing it in the freezer, or freezing a wet washcloth.
There is also an increased risk of wildfires throughout Oregon this weekend due to dry lightning strikes. The Mercury has your guide to wildfire alert systems and smoke mitigation tips.
Oregon Convention Center: 777 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Sunrise Center: 18901 E Burnside St.
Arbor Lodge building: 1952 N. Lombard St.