Gov. Kotek Declares Statewide Emergency in Oregon Ahead of Severe Heat Wave

Gov. Tina Kotek declared a state of emergency for all of Oregon on Friday, as the state braces for a heat wave that could push temperatures into the triple digits through Tuesday. as reported by KATU.

“Both the record-breaking temperatures and the duration of heat present a clear and present danger, particularly for children, elders, people with disabilities, and people who work outside,” Kotek said in a statement. “I am urging Oregonians to take every precaution and check on your family and neighbors.”

Emergency declarations enable state agencies to more freely share funding and resources with local governments and other groups as they set up cooling shelters, distribute water, and take other protective measures. This process is coordinated by the Oregon Department of Emergency Management (OEM).

Kotek stated that the Oregon Health Authority, Department of Human Services, state police, and other agencies “will be directed to provide any assistance requested by OEM that is necessary to assist in the response to this emergency and to provide all necessary support to statewide response, recovery, and mitigation efforts.” told by Yahoo.

The governor’s declaration comes in anticipation of the need as searing heat is predicted throughout the state in the coming days, rather than as a response to current county struggles. Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson issued an emergency heat declaration on Wednesday to prepare for the oncoming heat wave.

Temperatures as high as 110 degrees Fahrenheit are expected in Medford on Friday, with even hotter temperatures likely on Saturday. Portland and other areas of the Willamette Valley might see temperatures topping 100 degrees into early next week. In Ontario, on the border with Idaho, temperatures are expected to hit triple digits for a longer period.

Emergency declarations due to heat have become more common in recent years. Gov. Kate Brown did not issue a declaration during the 2021 “heat dome” event that killed roughly 100 people, many in the Portland metro region. She did declare an emergency during another heat wave later that year, and again in 2022.

Friday’s announcement marks the first time Kotek has declared a heat emergency since taking office in early 2023. She stated that government programs increasing the availability of air conditioners and improvements in the state’s energy grid should make such declarations less necessary in the future.

“However, gaps exist today,” Kotek said. “In the interest of safety and human life over the next several days, I am declaring an emergency due to extreme heat.”