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Snow, Ice and Extreme Weather Response

News Article
Published
Thank-you note from person in warming shelter

The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) filled the City of Portland’s and Multnomah County’s unified command and leadership positions during this extreme weather event. PBEM maintained a data-tracking dashboard to coordinate shelter capacity in real time at five locations across Multnomah County.

The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management supported this City-County partnership by running a countywide Guest Transport Team, which dispatched drivers and transported people who needed rides to somewhere warm. This was an around-the-clock operation for three nights and two days from Wednesday, Dec. 21 to Saturday, Dec. 24.

Working with 211Info, the Guest Transport Team provided rides to somewhere warm for nearly 350 people, including:

  • 207 individuals
  • 10 families
  • 35 or more people pets
  • 20 people in wheelchairs

Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) volunteers filled essential roles. Fifty-three NETs signed up for 95 shifts and logged an estimated 355 volunteer hours. NETS:

  • Dispatched and provided rides to shelters.
  • Assisted with supply logistics.
  • Maintained safety perimeters around downed power line.
  • Checked on neighbors.
  • Cleared storm inlets to prevent flooding and frozen roads 
Dashboard for rides to shelters

Members of Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) and other Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) played a critical role in this event. They:

  • Shared weather safety and shelter information on social media and in their communities.
  • Distributed supplies to their neighbors living outside and ran their own warming spaces.
  • In partnership with Outside In, identified unmet needs and made connections to resources, including placing 20 vulnerable and medically fragile youth in motels. 
  • PDX Saints Love served more than 100 meals and offered a warm place to be for several hours on the night of Friday, Dec. 23. A generator on loan from the Portland COAD Funding team powered their outreach space.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) were the first responders to the first responders. PBOT operated in 24-hour emergency response, with crews applying anti-icer and road salt to keep priority routes passable for first responders, shelter workers, and public transit.

This extremely challenging three-day continuous sheltering operation would not have been possible without Portland Fire & Rescue’s Community Health Division teams, including Portland Street Response, who filled vital medical and mental health support roles.

Multnomah County had at least one ADA-accessible vehicle available for the entire event. Thank you to our City partners at the Portland Water Bureau, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Parks Bureau, Portland Fire Bureau, Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, and Multnomah County, who provided vehicles.

Thank you to the City of Portland employees, including some Portland City Commissioners and their staffs, and members of our community, who stepped away from their families over the holiday, into the dark and frigid night, to fill shelters shifts and make Portland a safer and more compassionate place.