Northwest heat wave: Volunteers get water to the vulnerable

Aug 11, 2021, 9:20 AM | Updated: Aug 13, 2021, 12:54 pm
Darlene McApline, an administrative coordinator with Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare's street outrea...

Darlene McApline, an administrative coordinator with Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare's street outreach team, dumps a bottle of water on her head to cool off while loading supplies on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

(AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Volunteers scrambled to hand out water, portable fans, popsicles and information about cooling shelters Thursday to homeless people living in isolated encampments on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, as the Pacific Northwest sweated through a heat wave gripping the normally temperate region.

Authorities trying to provide relief to the vulnerable, including low-income older people and those living outdoors, are mindful of a record-shattering heat wave in late June that killed hundreds in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia when the thermometer went as high as 116 degrees Fahrenheit (47 C).

In Portland, temperatures reached 102 F (39 C) by late afternoon, and more heat was expected Friday. It was hotter than Phoenix, where the high in the desert city was a below-normal 100 F (38 C). In Seattle, highs were in the 90s in a region where many don’t have air conditioning. In Bellingham, Washington, on Thursday the high hit 100 F (38 C) for the first time on record.

Scorching weather also hit other parts of the U.S. this week. The National Weather Service said heat advisories and warnings are in effect from the Midwest to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic through at least Friday. And in Michigan, heavy rains brought flooding, leaving nearly 1 million homes and businesses without power at one point Thursday in the hot weather.

In Portland, a nonprofit group that serves the homeless and those with mental illness used three large vans to transport water and other cooling items to homeless encampments along the Columbia River on the eastern outskirts of the city.

The effort was important because people experiencing homelessness are often reluctant to go to cooling centers, said Kim James, director of homeless and housing support for Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.

Scott Zalitis, who was shirtless in the heat, gorged himself on lime-green popsicles handed out by the group and told volunteers that the temperature at his campsite reached 105 F (41 C) the day before. A huge cooler full of food spoiled when all the ice melted and he couldn’t find any more to buy.

“It’s miserable. I can’t handle the heat no matter what. So, I mean, it’s hard to stand. Even in the shade it’s too hot,” said Zalitis, who became homeless last year when the apartment where he subleased a room burned down in an electrical fire. “You want to stay somewhere that’s cool, as cool as possible.”

The encampment, where rusted-out cars and broken-down RVs mixed with tents and piles of garbage, was in sharp contrast to downtown Portland, where sweaty pedestrians cooled off by running through a large public fountain in a riverfront park.

Luna Abadia, 17, was out training with her cross country team from Lincoln High School in the morning when the group stopped for a few minutes at the fountain. The runners normally train at 4 p.m., but in recent weeks, they have have had to shift it to 8 a.m. — and it’s still oppressively hot, she said.

“It was very hot, lots of sweat. That’s something we’ve noticed in the past week or so,” Abadia said.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency and activated an emergency operations center, citing the potential for disruptions to the power grid and transportation. City and county governments have opened cooling centers, extended public library hours and waived bus fare for those headed to cooling centers. A 24-hour statewide help line will direct callers to the nearest cooling shelter and offer safety tips.

The back-to-back heat waves, coupled with a summer that’s been exceptionally warm and dry overall, are pummeling a region where summer highs usually drift into the 70s or 80s. Intense heat waves and a historic drought in the American West reflect climate change that is making weather more extreme.

“For the heat wave, at this level, it is new territory,” said Dan Douthit, spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications. “We’re known for the potential for earthquakes, we have fires, floods — but it seems like heat waves are becoming a very serious emergency.”

Abadia said changes brought on by climate change that she has noticed in her life prompted her to start a youth-run organization to get more young people involved in the issue.

“Climate change is everything I’ve been thinking about for the past weeks,” she said. “This heat wave and the wildfires we faced here a year ago — and even now around the world — have really been a new reminder to what we’re facing and, kind of, the immediate action that needs to be taken.”

___

Follow Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Sterling Sheffield, an assistant professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the Univers...
Associated Press

FDA change ushers in cheaper, easier-to-get hearing aids

It’s now a lot easier — and cheaper — for many hard-of-hearing Americans to get help. Hearing aids can now be sold without a prescription from a specialist. Over-the-counter, or OTC, hearing aids started hitting the market in October at prices that can be thousands of dollars lower than prescription hearing aids. About 30 million […]
1 day ago
2022 Kennedy Center Honoree George Clooney, bottom third from right, reacts as he is given a should...
Associated Press

George Clooney, Gladys Knight among Kennedy Center honorees

WASHINGTON (AP) — Performers such as Gladys Knight or the Irish band U2 usually would be headlining a concert for thousands but at Sunday’s Kennedy Center Honors the tables will be turned as they and other artists will be the ones feted for their lifetime of artistic contributions. Actor, director, producer and human rights activist […]
1 day ago
CIA Officers Memorial Foundation staff members Calista Anderson, left, and Nancy Faucette, right, t...
Associated Press

Group aiding kin of slain CIA officers comes out of shadows

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calista Anderson was at a sleepover when the email from a friend arrived. She was 12 years old and had just experienced the worst moment of her life: Her mother had been killed while working overseas. The email offered a further jolt. It linked to a news article revealing that, contrary to […]
1 day ago
FILE - Light illuminates part of the Supreme Court building at dusk on Capitol Hill in Washington, ...
Associated Press

Supreme Court weighs ‘most important case’ on democracy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is about to confront a new elections case, a Republican-led challenge asking the justices for a novel ruling that could significantly increase the power of state lawmakers over elections for Congress and the presidency. The court is set to hear arguments Wednesday in a case from North Carolina, where […]
1 day ago
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, astronaut Chen Dong waves as he sits outside the re-e...
Associated Press

3 Chinese astronauts return to Earth after 6-month mission

BEIJING (AP) — Three Chinese astronauts landed in a northern desert on Sunday after six months working to complete construction of the Tiangong station, a symbol of the country’s ambitious space program, state TV reported. A capsule carrying commander Chen Dong and astronauts Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe touched down at a landing site in […]
1 day ago
In this image taken from footage provided by the RU-RTR Russian television on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022,...
Associated Press

1,700 dead seals found on Russia’s Caspian coast

MOSCOW (AP) — About 1,700 seals have been found dead on the Caspian Sea coast in southern Russia, officials said Sunday. The authorities in the Russian province of Dagestan said that it’s still unclear what caused the animals’ deaths, but they likely died of natural reasons. Regional officials initially said Saturday that 700 dead seals […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Northwest heat wave: Volunteers get water to the vulnerable