PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A plea from county officials is calling for people to stay safe and warm, ahead of incoming dangerous weather conditions.

Wednesday night at the Oregon Convention Center, a team of staff and volunteers worked quickly to transform the space before opening the doors to guests at 8 p.m.

Emergency management director Chris Voss told KOIN 6 that these 24-hour severe weather shelters will operate as long as the inclement weather does and are open to anyone in need of a warm place to go.

“Maybe your heating system isn’t the greatest and you want to find a place to get out of the cold, or maybe you don’t have a place to go,” Voss said. “We want to provide spaces so that people can find safe areas they can go to get out of this really extreme weather.”

The convention center is just one of four emergency shelter locations available to the public this evening with the joint office of homeless services also opening two shelters off North Lombard and another at the Sunrise Center in Gresham.

“We’ve declared a state of emergency, and when we do that TriMet waives the fares for people that need to get to these shelters and don’t have the resources to get to the shelter,” said Voss. “So we don’t want that to be an obstacle for anybody either.”

With a combined 2,000 shelter beds available and an estimated 3,000 people living on the streets, we asked Voss how officials plan to accommodate the demand of both housed and unhoused residents ahead of the projected storm.

“Our role during these really extreme events is we keep expanding and keep opening space, so we don’t turn anybody away,” Voss shared. “One of the reasons why we’re in this really large space here is because it gives us the ability to expand. So if we need to start putting down more cots and accommodate more people, we’ve got a little bit more space to deal with here at the convention center. And we even have some contingencies we’re working on just in case we start to see some areas fill up beyond that.”

The county says those looking for resources, shelter locations and transportation options can visit the Multnomah County website or can call 211.

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