The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) has begun a three-part series to examine the effectiveness of its severe weather preparedness measures. They’ve teamed up with 35 Portland organizations that serve the city’s many communities of color.
“The key is to educate and share information,” said PBEM’s Regina Ingabire. “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.”
The heat wave was the topic of Thursday’s May 25 series. The National Weather Service conceived it to help people prepare for and respond to extreme weather. When the 2021 heat dome descended upon the Portland area, temperatures reached 116 degrees, and 69 people perished in Multnomah County alone.
To prevent situations from spiraling out of control, “that’s why we are having this conversation,” Ingabire explained, “to make sure people have information ahead of time, they can plan ahead of time, and respond to it ahead of time.”
Street Roots, St. Johns Neighborhood Association, Gurreras Latinas, FolkTime, and Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon were some neighborhood groups that participated in the second series. Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon’s community health manager, Taylor Silvey, said that by practicing these weather emergency scenarios, they and the city would be better prepared 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.
“As one of our community members put it, “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.”
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The same groups will get together once more in July. The next meeting will focus on the topic of wildfires.