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Portland community groups, officials discuss preparedness for severe weather

In the last three years alone, over 70 people have died in Portland from heat-related deaths — 69 of them came from the heat dome in 2021.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) has started a three-part series to put its extreme weather plan to the test. They have partnered with 35 community groups that work directly with diverse communities in Portland. 

“The key is to educate and share information," said Regina Ingabire with PBEM. “We want to know areas of improvement in our coordination and communication with community-based organizations. We also want to learn about the work they do.” 

Thursday’s series focused on extreme heat. It was designed by the National Weather Service to improve community resilience by practicing different weather scenarios. As the 2021 heat dome brought 116-degree weather to the Portland area and claimed the lives of 69 people in Multnomah County alone. 

“That’s why we are having this conversation to make sure people have information ahead of time, they can plan ahead of time and respond to it ahead of time before things get out of control,” said Ingabire. 

The second series consisted of community groups like Street Roots, St. Johns Neighborhood Association, Gurreras Latinas, FolkTime and Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. 

Taylor Silvey, community health manager at Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, said running through these weather emergency scenarios will help them and the city better prepare to save lives. 

“We have a lot of language and access challenges for the folks that we serve. So, the best way for us is to know ahead of time to be able to prepare and inform the people that we serve,” said Silvey. "We are so lucky and grateful that the city is really collaborating with community-based organizations that are doing so much work already without it being known." 

There will be another meeting with the same groups in July. They'll be talking about wildfires next time.

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