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Overnight warming shelters remained open Saturday in Portland metro counties; officials still seeking volunteers for future

Warming shelters welcomed 849 guests Friday, one of the busiest nights on record with more than 740 people using the 211 service to get transportation to shelters.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties opened overnight warming shelters for four consecutive nights following Wednesday's historic snow storm

Most shelters that were open Thursday and Friday night were open again Saturday night, and officials made plans to keep them open longer amid ongoing dangerously low temperatures and potential additional rounds of snow that started Saturday night.

Multnomah County and Portland warming shelters welcomed 849 guests Friday, one of the busiest nights on record with more than 740 people using the 211 service to get transportation to shelters, the county said in a news release Saturday afternoon. 

All Multnomah County Library branches were open during the day Saturday, with the exception of Midland and Holgate libraries, county officials said. The Lloyd Center was also available as a daytime warming option.

The county had announced Cook Plaza as its newest warming shelter, replacing the Imago Dei Church which closed Saturday morning. The plaza has a similar capacity as the church, county officials said.

The county and city officials were still asking for additional volunteers to staff the shelters, and Mayor Ted Wheeler and County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson held a news conference with emergency staff to ask residents to help out.

"The duration of this historic storm that we are experiencing right now is creating an urgent need for our community that you can really help us fill," Vega Pederson said, adding that the county is trying to line up resources to keep the shelters open for several more days if necessary.

Volunteers were able to sign up for a 2-hour online training course before their shift, if possible. The county is still seeking volunteers for winter or future severe weather events. Registration is here. The most urgent need was the Lloyd Center shelter, and its newest site Cook Plaza, county officials said. Its most pressing need was for people to commit to shifts Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

Multnomah County shelters

Multnomah County started with four shelters Wednesday night and added two more Thursday night and one more Friday night. Shelters that were opened Saturday night were:  

All of the shelters were pet-friendly. People who need rides to shelters can call 211 or take TriMet and won't be turned away if they don't have fare money, the county said, although weather-related delays on buses and trains should be expected.

Multnomah County and Portland jointly opened six shelters Thursday night, and they collectively reached 96% capacity, the county said in a Friday news release, with 656 people using the emergency beds and more than 500 people using the 211 service to get transportation to shelters.

Late Friday afternoon the county announced that it had officially added the Lloyd Center as its seventh overnight warming shelter. Lloyd Center was originally only used as a daytime warming shelter Thursday after county libraries were forced to close due to the snow.  

Washington County shelters

Washington County's website listed two shelter locations that opened Wednesday and will stay open "until inclement weather ends." The shelters provided hot meals and were pet-friendly. People who needed transportation called 503-629-0111.

A county staffer confirmed Friday afternoon that both shelters would again be open Friday night and Saturday night. As of Sunday, at noon the county announced that they closed the shelters due to "improving weather conditions."

Clackamas County shelters

Clackamas County opened three overnight shelters Wednesday and Thursday. The three of them were open again Friday night. One of them, Father's Heart Street Ministry, was no longer listed on the county's webpage, but the county included it in a press release late Friday afternoon. The shelters that were open Saturday night were: 

Zoar Church and Hope Center both allowed leashed dogs or small pets in carriers. According to the website as of Sunday, the Zoar Church will remain open through noon Sunday and the Hope Center will remain open through 8 a.m. Monday.

The county put out a call Friday afternoon for volunteers to help out at its warming shelters over the weekend. The county said in a press release that its shelters have a critical need for volunteers in order to operate around the clock this weekend. 

The county is encouraging volunteers to sign up for a shift for one of the three warming shelters:

Volunteers will work alongside trained shelter staff to set up, the county said. Volunteer spots are also available to provide meals for shelter guests.

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