Northwest heat wave targeted vulnerable, tested climate prep

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The unprecedented heat wave that swept the Pacific Northwest this summer killed scores of the region’s most vulnerable who couldn’t leave their homes, afford air conditioning or get a ride to public cooling centers.

Consecutive days of temperatures as high as 116 degrees in Portland made a folly of years of planning for more anticipated disasters such as earthquakes and snowstorms and took a devastating toll on the socially isolated and older, low-income people.

Experts say the disaster should be a wake-up call as climate change raises the temperature in the historically temperate region and a harsh lesson in how unprepared cities and states are.

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