Banks, Health, Weather

Brown declares state of emergency for entire state as triple digits threaten

The sun near Mountaindale on July 31, 2017. Photo: Chas Hundley

Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency on Tuesday for the entire state in advance of triple digit temperatures expected across much of the state beginning Wednesday.

The declaration, Brown said, allows the state to provide resources to tribal and local governments in grappling with the emergency caused by the excessive heat. 

It will take effect at 12 p.m. Tuesday, and last through the end of August 20.

“Oregon is facing yet another extreme heat wave, and it is critical that every level of government has the resources they need to help keep Oregonians safe and healthy,” said Governor Brown. “I encourage Oregonians to take proactive steps to keep themselves and their families safe, including drinking plenty of fluids, taking advantage of cooling centers, and checking in on neighbors, friends, and loved ones.” 

Brown directed the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to activate Oregon’s Emergency Coordination Center, and other state agencies to provide assistance to OEM as needed. 

Brown said Oregonians should learn the symptoms of heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses.

A press release from Brown’s Office urged Oregonians to call 211, staffed 24/7, for information on cooling centers. 

In Washington County, cooling centers west of Hillsboro include one at the North Plains Public Library, in Forest Grove at the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center and the Forest Grove City Library, and one at the Cornelius Public Library. 

The Portland office of the National Weather Service issued an “Excessive Heat Watch” Sunday afternoon for much of Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon beginning Wednesday afternoon through Saturday evening. 

The watch has since been changed to an “Excessive Heat Warning,” meaning that excessive heat is now imminent or occurring, as opposed to the less certain possibility under the previously issued heat watch.

The NWS said that dangerously hot temperatures around 100 degrees could be reached, and urged residents to prepare for the temperatures. 

In the lower-lying portions of western Washington County, triple digit highs are expected on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

The area covered by the heat watch includes all of Washington County.

At the start of the last heat wave that struck the region beginning July 29, Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency for 23 counties to provide resources to tribal and local governments grappling with the emergency caused by the excessive heat. 

At least 96 people died due to Oregon’s record-shattering heat wave in June, with more deaths being investigated in connection to the heat wave. 

At least seven of the people who died were Washington County residents or were in the county when they died. 

There are some steps to take to reduce the chances of heat-related illness. 

The National Weather Service noted that those working outside or doing activities outdoors, the elderly, and those without access to air conditioning were especially at risk during hot weather. 

Washington County Health and Human Services established a webpage with tips on staying cool during high temperatures.

The NWS said that residents should monitor local forecasts to be on top of changing weather patterns, drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun and in air-conditioned rooms if possible,  and check up on neighbors and relatives. 

And in high temperatures, the weather agency said, children and pets should never be left in vehicles unattended. 

“Car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes,” the agency warned.

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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