New tool to help Multnomah County residents during heat waves

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 4:33 PM PDT
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MULTNOMAH COUNTY Ore. (KPTV) - Multnomah County has launched a new interactive tool as the temperatures continue to climb. The idea for the tool came after the 2021 heat wave when temperatures reached into the 100s. It will help pinpoint areas in the county that are more vulnerable to the heat, so the county can provide resources to help keep people cool. It’s called the Heat Vulnerability Index.

“When we look at who is most impacted by the 2021 heat dome, it was older folks who are living alone and multifamily buildings in this talk and help us kind of zero in on where those folks are likely to be. And we can use either direct outreach, or person-to-person, or even technology tools,” says Brendon Haggerty, Healthy Homes & Communities Program manager.

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The map is tracked by census data and the colors represent each area’s heat rank; the darker the color or higher the number, the higher the concern. The index is divided into three categories.

  • Sensitivity, which covers age and health conditions
  • Adaptive capacity, which is the ability to cope with heat
  • Exposure, which show areas that may get hotter than others

“That’s what the three categories help us understand is do we need to get more tree canopy in this neighborhood to get it from dark pink to light pink or is it we need to make sure that we’re delivering services in the appropriate languages, or making sure that people have more air conditioning,” says Haggerty.

Haggerty says it’s possible for an area to change color and rank over time, but it will vary by neighborhood.

“One of the things that this helps us understand is right, where you’d want to prioritize that type of investment where maybe you want to remove some pavement and add some more green space,” Haggerty.

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The index will be used by Multnomah County, the government and health organizations.

The county already put in place ways to keep cool in some spots, like adding a splash pad in the Rockwood area that will be open this weekend.

To check the rank of your neighborhood click here. Cooling resources can be found here.