In preparation for a heat wave descending on Oregon, Multnomah County will be opening three cooling shelters on Friday that will stay open from 1 to 9 pm every day until at least Monday.
The National Weather Service projects the temperature could rise to 107 degrees this Sunday, shattering June records and unleashing heat seldom seen in the metro area.
The three shelters will be the Oregon Convention Center at 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., the Sunrise Center at 18901 E Burnside St., and Arbor Lodge at 1952 N Lombard St.
The county said in a statement it may look to find more cooling shelters, and Denis Theriault, spokesman for the Joint Office of Homeless Services, says it depends on demand at the existing ones.
What makes this heat spell especially treacherous, the county said, is that the heat will linger into the night—causing greater risk of illnesses like heat stroke.
In prior years—with the exception of last year—people could often find refuge from the heat at malls, shops, libraries and public pools. And while things are slowly beginning to reopen from pandemic closures, the capacity of those spaces is still quite limited.
That, says Theriault, takes away from the usually options for relief, especially for homeless people.
“People can go to the Lloyd Center, it’s probably pretty empty. But only five libraries are open, so we’ll see,” Theriault says.
He adds the county will take note of Friday’s capacity at the cooling centers and then decide whether it will need to find more space.
“This is life-threatening heat,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, health officer for the county. “People need to find someplace cool to spend time during the coming days.”