PORTLAND — A Pacific Northwest heat wave has killed nearly 100 people in Oregon alone, a number that state’s governor called “absolutely unacceptable.”
“Following events like this we always do reviews and see what we can do better next time,” Democratic Gov. Kate Brown said Sunday, July 4, on “Face the Nation” on CBS. Shortly after Brown’s appearance on the national program, Multnomah County officials revised their estimate of heat-related deaths to 64, boosting the state’s total to 99.
Hundreds are believed to have died from the heat during the past week in the U.S. Northwest and southwestern Canada.
Records included 116 degrees in Portland and 108 in Seattle. The hot weather was headed east, with temperatures well above 100 forecast July 4 for parts of Idaho and eastern Montana.
Government officials warned people about the heat, dispersed water to vulnerable people and set up cooling stations, Brown said.
“We still lost too many lives," Brown said.
Scientists consider the heat wave an ultra-rare event that’s nonetheless consistent with the effects of human-caused climate change.
In announcing the additional deaths, Multnomah County officials emphasized the steps they took in what they called “an unprecedented mass casualty event.” Officials in Oregon’s most populous county, and the county to have suffered the most reported fatalities from the heat wave, noted they opened their efforts including “cooling centers and nine cooling spaces, directly contacting tens of thousands of vulnerable elders, people with disabilities and pregnant women” as well as distributing fans and reaching out to people experiencing homelessness.