In the city of Portland, which has been blanketed by historic levels of snow and ice since Friday, 911 calls increased by 33%, says Dan Douthit, spokesman for the city's Bureau of Emergency Communications.
911 operators received a total 5,517 calls on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Douthit said. In comparison, the city received 4,147 the same time last year, representing a 33% increase, Douthit said.
What, specifically, are emergency responders being called to? Mostly downed power lines, according to Portland Fire & Rescue.
The agency said in a statement Monday that in the 24-hour period between noon on Sunday and noon today, Portland Fire & Rescue crews responded to 366 calls involving downed power lines. On a normal day, Fire & Rescue said, it responds to less than three such calls in a 24-hour period.
Amid the largest power outage in Oregon history, which left over 330,000 Oregonians without power, Portland Fire & Rescue urges residents to only call 911 regarding power lines "when they are arcing, sparking, on fire or have caused an immediate danger to any person or their pets."
Otherwise, the agency says, report the downed power lines to Portland General Electric at 503-464-7777 or 800-544-1795. Fire & Rescue says if you see downed power lines, stay far away, especially if conditions are wet.
In previous snowstorms, a significant portion of 911 calls in Portland reported car crashes or abandoned vehicles. Douthit says BOEC can't immediately break out those calls this week, and police said they were diverting most of those calls to city and state transportation officials.
Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement Monday morning describing the power outages as unprecedented, and urging Oregonians to stay home and to check on loved ones.
"Utilities in our region have never experienced such widespread outages, including during the September 2020 wildfires," Brown said. "Oregonians in impacted communities should remain home as much as possible, as road conditions remain poor. Check on your neighbors and loved ones when you can do so safely. Please help our first responders by staying home when you can."