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State of Oregon says communities can apply for assistance in dealing with heat waves, cold snaps, and wildfire smoke

On the edge of where Highway 22 is closed, the town of Stayton, Ore., is thick with smoke. Sept 10, 2020
Stephani Gordon
Smoke from wildfires created dangerous air quality in many Oregon communities in Sept. 2020. File photo of Stayton, OR.

Communities around Oregon can now apply for state assistance to help keep residents safe from heat waves, cold snaps, and excessive wildfire smoke.

Oregon lawmakers approved $7 million in funding for local governments to create safe places for people during extreme weather conditions. That could include warming shelters in the winter and cooling centers in the summer.

The state also has 438 clean air scrubbers that can be used to filter air in emergency shelters in areas with dangerous levels of wildfire smoke. Dozens of communities have expressed interest in the air purification equipment, said Jake Sunderland with the Oregon Department of Human Services.

“If they need a truckload of air scrubbers tomorrow, they can call us and we could have it down there,” he said.

The resources are also available to public schools and tribal governments.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018 and became News Director in March, 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”