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Incoming severe winter weather prompts state of emergency in Portland, Multnomah County

The state of emergency starts on Christmas Eve and runs through Jan 3.

PORTLAND, Ore. — With frigid temperatures in the weather forecast for the next week, Portland and Multnomah County have announced steps to help those who need a warm place to stay.

The city and county declared an emergency and will open five winter weather shelters across Multnomah County. They will open Christmas Day at 3 p.m.

"These shelters are open to anybody seeking warmth and shelter during the emergency"  said Multnomah County chair Deborah Kafoury.

On Friday, volunteers prepared the gym inside the East Portland Community Center, which will be able to accommodate 80 people.

"Unless you've been out in the cold for days on days you can't really appreciate how great it is to have a spot where you can get some warm food and stay warm throughout the day and get a good night's sleep" said Jake Dornblaser from the City of Portland.

RELATED: Portland, Multnomah County declare state of emergency ahead of expected week of snow, cold temperatures

TriMet is offering free fares for anyone traveling to a center. Anyone who needs a ride to a shelter or more information should call 211.

Washington and Clackamas Counties are also opening winter weather shelters.

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines offered a warning about the risks of hypothermia.

RELATED: Rainy Friday, Winter Storm Watch for the Weekend

“It can happen slowly and it can also happen quickly if someone is wet and without shelter” she said. 

Officials asked people to check on their neighbors during the cold snap, and said Portlanders should call 911 if they see someone whose life appears to be in danger.

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