Multnomah County declares state of emergency ahead of anticipated ice storm

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Multnomah County officials have declared a state of emergency ahead of an ice storm that’s set to hit the Portland metro area later this week. Cold weather shelters are also set to open Wednesday night, according to county officials.

Hoping to prepare homeless Portlanders for the dangerous weather conditions ahead, nonprofits like Blanchet House spent Tuesday afternoon handing out cold weather items like coats, scarves, pants and shirts.

Mitchell Saxton has been living on the streets for more than a year, and uses the services at Blanchet House.

“It gets really cold, a lot of us have to stay together … it’s a different kind of cold,” Saxton said.

Michael Seid is the programs services manager for Blanchet House and said that the need right now is great. People are able to come through the facility, pick up their warm weather clothes and get a good meal.

“Every meal service we have been handing out 100 to 150 items of clothing, jackets, shirts and pants,” Seid said.

All the warm weather clothes were donated to Blanchet House. As of now, they are only accepting men’s clothing.

Over at Transition Projects, a homeless services agency, crews are preparing to hand out tents, sleeping bags and warm coats. The outreach team will be looking for people in need of these items. Transition Projects will also be prepared to take people to shelters.

“We work with 211 to find out who has a shelter bed available,” said Daphne Nesbitt with Transition Projects. “When it’s not severe weather and the shelters are not open, then we are using 211 for that.”

Officials said the plan is to operate the cold weather shelters 24/7 as the conditions require. There will be four of these warming shelters available between Multnomah County and the City of Portland, officials said, though the locations will not be announced until Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, TriMet put out a statement pledging that they would not turn away anyone traveling to or from a warm location if they are unable to pay fare for the duration of Multnomah County’s state of emergency. Riders just have to let a bus driver know that they’re trying to get somewhere warm.

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