Portland, Ore. — Portland Mayor Wheeler has declared a local emergency effective January 12, 2024, in response to severe winter weather impacting the Portland-metro area. The declaration aims to address the threats posed by severe cold weather and snowfall to the health and safety of Portlanders, especially those experiencing houselessness, and the increased risk to infrastructure leading to power outages and interruptions to utilities and services.
Shad Ahmed, Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) Director, highlighted the need for timely and collaborative decisions during emergencies to ensure community safety. The emergency declaration streamlines decision-making processes, facilitating better support for partners, including the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT).
Millicent Williams, PBOT Director, emphasized the challenges posed by below-freezing temperatures and high winds, leading to 25 road closures across the city due to downed trees and/or powerlines. Citizens are urged to stay home, allowing clear roads for PBOT crews and first responders.
Joshua Baker, Program Manager at Lloyd EcoDistrict and a member of Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD), acknowledged the timely support from City and County partners during severe weather conditions. Multilingual information and outreach materials have proven invaluable in disseminating severe weather information, including updates on newly established warming centers.
Emergency Declarations modify City procedures temporarily to ensure comprehensive support and coordination among responding agencies. The declaration appoints the PBEM Director as the Mayor’s designee, expedites and coordinates responses to weather impacts, centralizes weather-related communications, and streamlines procurement and City processes. This ensures effective advocacy for the community and collaboration with partners at Multnomah County.