LA County Stepping Up to Protect Residents from El Nino

Los Angeles County is taking every precaution to protect residents from what experts warn could be the most powerful El Niño on record.

This includes recently activating its Emergency Operations Center to support County and local jurisdictions, agencies and community organizations preparing for and responding to the winters storms wrought by the El Nino.

The County has also opened additional winter shelters, including one with 207 beds at Athens Park on 12603 S. Broadway in Los Angeles , and 100 beds in Del Aire at 12601 S. Isis Avenue in Hawthorne. Meanwhile, Sheriff’s deputies and other workers have been deployed to warn those staying in homeless encampments along riverbanks about heightened flood risks, while firefighters and other emergency personnel have evacuated some homes near burn areas because of landslide danger.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 2.54.38 PMEl Niño is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific that can have profound consequences on weather and climate around the world. It  can trigger powerful storms in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere, while producing severe drought in Australia, Asia and Africa.

Testifying recently before the Board of Supervisors, Fire Chief Daryl Osby said  his department’s first responders are prepared for rescue operations. Sheriff’s Lt. Jeffrey Dietrich reported that deputies are continuing to monitor the safety of homeless encampments near waterways.

Public Works Director Gail Farber’s department maintains the integrity, safety and operational effectiveness of the County’s infrastructure, including storm drains and flood control channels. She told the Board, “We stand ready.”

Homeless Initiative director Phil Ansell said 40 percent more beds have been added to the winter shelter program, bringing the total to 861. Augmented Winter Shelters, which are temporary shelters in County-owned facilities, may also be activated as needed for up to 1,131 people. As for pets and livestock, they can can stay in mobile trailers provided by the Department of Animal Care and Control.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 2.59.33 PMAs further precaution against El Nino, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recently filed motions – approved by the Board – to assess the need to declare a state of emergency, review mutual aid agreements, and expedite housing for the homeless.

He also sought to crack down on price gouging, noting, “It is important that we have adequate consumer protections in case there is a spike in demand for food, housing, medical supplies, et cetera. It is critical that the public be made aware of the protections and educated about how they can report any violations or any acts of exploitation.”

Los Angeles County residents and businesses, including persons with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, may call 211 LA County for emergency preparedness information, and other referral services. They can also click on to sign up for emergency notifications, download survival guides, report hazards, and even learn how to apply for disaster loans.

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Photo Credit: LA County FIre Department