Oregon governor: Heat wave death toll 'absolutely unacceptable'

Oregon Gov. Kate BrownKate BrownOregon legislature on the brink as Democrats push gerrymandered maps Oregon governor sued by police, firefighters over vaccine mandate Unvaccinated employee sparked COVID-19 outbreak at Oregon assisted living facility: officials MORE (D) on Sunday denounced as "absolutely unacceptable" the scores of deaths in her state as a result of the recent record-setting heat wave in the Pacific Northwest.

During an appearance on CBS’s "Face The Nation," Brown told host Ed O’Keefe that her administration's biggest concern "is that this is a harbinger of things to come."

“We have been working to prepare for climate change in this state for a number of years,” she said. “What was unprecedented, of course, was the three days of record-breaking heat, and it was horrific to see over 90 Oregonians lose their lives."

She added, “We literally have had four emergency declarations in this state at the federal level since April of 2020. Over Labor Day last year, we had horrific wildfires. They were historic. We lost over a million acres, over 4,000 homes and nine lives."

Portland, Ore., hit a record high temperature of 116 degrees on Monday, smashing its previous record of 107. The "heat dome" event led to dozens of deaths and hospitalizations in both the U.S. and Canada, many of them in communities where a majority of residents lack air conditioning.

At least 95 deaths have been reported in Oregon as result of the heat wave, and Brown said that "our communities of color, our low-income families are disproportionately impacted."

She called for an increase in federal resources to combat the problem, including for more firefighting equipment and training for National Guard members.

"It also means that agencies like FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] who do not aid our undocumented families, we need to make sure that that happens," she added. "Of the families that lost homes in southern Oregon last Labor Day fire, several hundred were undocumented. FEMA does not provide aid or assistance to these families."

“It is absolutely unacceptable. These families are so much a part of our communities. They’re the heart and soul of our culture and they are the backbone of our economy. They deserve the assistance, and they need it,” she added.