WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
When a tree falls in Portland, the Portland Parks & Recreation's Urban Forestry Division is there to remove it.
And in the past 24 hours, there have been a lot of downed trees.
Starting yesterday afternoon, Portland has been subject to rare, high-velocity summer winds, which, combined with dry heat, led the National Weather Service to issue a critical fire weather warning for Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington.
While several towns in Marion County have had to evacuate due to the fires, here in Portland, the biggest danger has been fallen trees and branches.
By 7 am this morning, the Urban Forestry Division's tree emergency hotline had already received about 45 calls for help. By 2 pm, it had 218.
"We have 12 staff out in the field doing that work and four other folks who handle the calls that come in during the day," says Portland City Forester and Urban Forestry Division manager Jenn Cairo. "So that's a lot of work for very few people."
The division has had to put aside all other responsibilities—including maintenance and planting projects—to deal with the trees and branches that are now strewn across the city, and expects to be working through the backlog until next week.
WW talked to Cairo about removing trees from busy streets, the backlog of calls, and the last time the Urban Forest Division had to deal with so many downed trees.
See more Distant Voices interviews here.