WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a summer of scorching heat waves that set record temperatures in many parts of Oregon, Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden are joining a bipartisan effort to push the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for better assistance in dealing with extreme heat events.
“This summer has produced historic heat waves and high temperatures across the United States, particularly in the West, devastating communities and causing hundreds of heat-related deaths. According to the National Weather Service, extreme heat events have been the leading cause of weather-related death in the United States over the last 30 years,” wrote the Senators.
“As Senators from states experiencing extreme heat that threatens the lives of our constituents, we request immediate assistance from FEMA for our state, Tribal, and local governments to help protect the public from extreme heat.”
The senators noted that operating public cooling centers and arranging transportation to those centers is often difficult and costly, particularly in rural and remote communities.
The senators pressed FEMA for answers on whether the agency recognizes extreme heat as being eligible for major disaster or emergency declarations, and what it plans to do in the future to respond to extreme heat events that pose life-threatening risks to Americans.
In addition to Merkley and Wyden, the letter to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell was signed by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).