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Oregon braces for extreme heat, cooling shelters open

Matthew Carr cools off in the Salmon Street Springs fountain before returning to work cleaning up trash on his bicycle in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, July 26, 2022.
Craig Mitchelldyer
Matthew Carr cools off in the Salmon Street Springs fountain before returning to work cleaning up trash on his bicycle in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

Cooling shelters are open across western Oregon this week as temperatures rise above 100 degrees.

Oregon and Northern California face an extreme heatwave this week, which is expected to last through Thursday according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures in Medford will be over 110 degrees, a peak of 109 in Redding and 110 in Roseburg on Monday.

There won’t be much relief at night either. In most places, the temperature won't get below 70 degrees in the evenings. The excessive heat warning from the NWS extends throughout the western part of the state, including Portland; and the rest of the state is under a heat advisory.

Cities and community groups are opening cooling shelters to keep people out of the heat.

In Medford, the city has opened a shelter in partnership with the non-profit ACCESS. It’s located at the former Kelly Shelter at 324 West 6th Street. The shelter will be open from Noon till 8 p.m. through Tuesday. Pets are allowed.

It’s a barebones facility with bunk beds, ice pops and most importantly, air conditioning. ACCESS Director of Support Services Melanie Doshier said emergency weather shelters don’t typically get a lot of funding.

“We have taken the building and created a safe, comfortable place for folks to get out of the elements,” she said.

She said on Sunday, 51 people had used the shelter, which has a capacity of 65.

In Roseburg, the senior center will be hosting a cooling shelter, at 1614 SE Stephens St. The shelter will remain open through Thursday from 1-7 p.m. Pets are welcome but kennels and leashes will be required and supplied. There will also be showers, water, meals and some basic supplies available.

In Ashland, a cooling shelter is available at the Presbyterian Church at 1165 Clarke Ave. from 1-8 p.m. through Wednesday.

Only two people had shown up to the shelter by 2 p.m. on Monday. Ashland City Council Member Dylan Bloom was volunteering at the shelter, and said people may not know about it.

“We had a little confab when I came in and identified some areas where we could put up some fliers, maybe do a little bit more Facebook push to get people aware cause we have it here, we might as well take advantage of it,” he said.

Well-behaved pets are allowed at the shelter. Water and restrooms are available. The shelter may be open past Wednesday if the temperature remains high.

In Grants Pass, a representative from the non-profit UCAN said a cooling shelter is open at the Grants Pass Unitarian Universalist church at 129 NW E St. The shelter is open from 1-7 p.m. through Thursday.

Multnomah County is opening three cooling shelters in Portland. The county also has a list of other places to cool off, such as libraries or outdoor splash pads.

Lane County has a list of places to cool off in Eugene and other parts of the county. The Salem Reporter summarized cooling shelters in the state’s capital.

The extreme heat also brings high risk for wildfire. A red flag warning is in effect for parts of Southern Oregon, including the Rogue Valley, through Monday. High winds and low humidity mean people should be careful when around any vegetation. The growth of the Bedrock and Lookout fires east of Eugene led officials to step up evacuation orders Sunday.

Campfire restrictions are also in effect across many of Oregon’s state parks, including those on the coast.

The weather service recommends people stay hydrated, stay indoors with air conditioning and check on relatives and neighbors during this heatwave. If you need to work outdoors, taking more breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas is recommended, as well as keeping an eye out for symptoms of heat-related illnesses.

The temperature in most places should drop back below 100 degrees by Friday.

Rob Manning from OPB contributed to this story.

After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the west coast.