Environment, Gales Creek, Weather

Gov. Brown declares state of emergency as heat wave builds

The Sun in Gales Creek on June 23, 2021. The Sun is a star located in the Milky Way galaxy and orbited by a number of celestial bodies, including the planet known as Earth. Photo: Chas Hundley

Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency on Thursday in 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties—including Washington County—due to the heat wave beginning in much of the state today. 

The declaration, Brown said, came at the request of the Oregon Health Authority. 

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

“As Oregon faces another high heat event, it’s important that we make available all needed resources to assist every level of government helping Oregonians stay safe and healthy,” Brown said. “We know that these excessively high temperatures are placing a significant burden on local and Tribal jurisdictions, and that they can also impact critical infrastructure, including utilities and transportation.”

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 also directed the Oregon Health Authority to activate the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Oregon (SERV-OR), the state’s roster of volunteers in the medical profession. 

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” for much of the Willamette Valley and surrounding areas beginning Thursday and extending through Saturday evening.

The NWS said that dangerously high temperatures between 97 and 102 degrees could be reached, and urged residents to prepare for the temperatures. 

For those living in Gales Creek, the heat advisory comes with a bit of an interesting twist: The western boundary of the advisory, which includes most of the Willamette Valley, all of Portland, chunks of Washington and more, ends smack dab in downtown Gales Creek. 

Halfway through the Gales Creek Tavern, to be precise, according to the National Weather Service weather and hazards map

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. 

At least 83 people died due to Oregon’s record-shattering heat wave in June, with 33 more deaths being investigated.

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

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