Governor Kate Brown has agreed to deploy the Oregon National Guard to Clackamas County to assist officials in conducting door-to-door welfare checks on residents affected by last weekend’s historic ice storm and the ongoing power outages.
County leaders made the request for Guard support Thursday, in the wake of the most destructive winter storm to strike the region in decades. The move is meant to “expand the reach” of several storm resource centers established in the county this week to distribute food and water, as thousands of rural residents are expected to remain without power for another week or more.
National Guard members will be conducting wellness checks and helping deliver basic necessities to those who are unable to visit the resource centers.
“We are particularly concerned about our rural residents, making sure that those who are homebound are visited and the medically fragile and small children are taken care of,” said Clackamas County Chair Tootie Smith. “We need assistance from the State in order to make every effort to help residents without the basics to survive while we all get through this.”
NEWS RELEASE from our partners at @clackamascounty: Clackamas County & @OregonGuard are partnering to conduct welfare checks on residents affected by the winter storm & ongoing power outages. https://t.co/oJiVNjzmDR pic.twitter.com/N2WfJcVtdn
At least five county residents have died since the storm began, four due to carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to keep warm and one related to a medical issue from not being able to power a breathing machine.
“Having even one life at risk due to the aftermath of the winter storm is untenable. With the help of the National Guard, our odds of connecting with everyone who remains without power are much greater,” said Oregon State Representative Christine Drazan. “My thanks to the Governor for calling up the National Guard to help protect the lives and safety of our neighbors.”
Working with information provided by Portland General Electric and Clackamas 911, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office deputies and will begin door-to-door welfare checks on Saturday of residents identified as “high-risk” for need in the wake of the storm and ensuing power outages. These high-risk residents include the older adults, homebound and those who are medically fragile and have been without electricity.
Information will then be provided to Oregon National Guard members and Clackamas County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, who will follow up and manage the logistics of care. The Oregon National Guard has committed four vehicles and 12 personnel to this effort.
Door-to-door welfare checks will begin Saturday, and National Guard members are expected to begin delivery of supplies the following day.
These welfare checks will be conducted during daylight hours by uniformed deputies. Deputies will begin going door-to-door in rural areas of the county, then work toward more populated areas.
“It takes all of us to ensure that everyone in our community makes this through this long-term power outage safely. We cannot lose any more lives,” said Clackamas County Board Commission Vice Chair Paul Savas “We are so appreciative of the local partnerships making this possible, as well as the service of our National Guard members.”