By Mary O’Keefe & Robin Goldsworthy
A press conference was held at 5:40 p.m. Thursday night in La Cañada to provide an update of how recent weather has impacted the area.
With Schwarzenegger out of state, on his behalf acting governor Jerry Brown today signed the executive order of the declaration of state of emergency for the areas affected by the Station Fire and coping with current flood dangers. The order was presented by L.A. Supervisor Michael Antonovich. The declaration will: waive regulations which may hinder response and recovery efforts, make recovery assistance available under the California Disaster Assistance Act, and expedite access to federal resources and disaster relief programs including the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers, Antonovich said.
So far, 1991 homes are under mandatory evacuation orders in response to the storms. These homes are located in: Acton – 51 homes evacuated; La Cañada Flintridge – 251 homes; La Crescenta – 217 homes; Glendale – 348 homes; Tujunga/Foothill – 803; S Sierra Madre – 321 homes.
Antonovich noted that the evacuation effort was “a team effort between counties and local cities.” He praised the Crescenta Valley Town Council for being proactive and sponsoring meetings after the Station Fire and before the rains. When asked when folks might be allowed to return to their residences, Antonovich did not give a specific date, instead saying that to send people back to their homes when it is not safe would be “wrong.”
Glendale Fire Chief Harold Scoggins reported that about 80% of Glendale residents agreed to evacuate and no problems were reported. A lot of residents decided to evacuate without delay, remembering the fire and floods of 1975/1978 and even dating back to the 1934 disaster.
Antonovich commented that communication was much improved since the Station Fire, a time when he felt that information was not being delivered in a timely manner – a fact that he said has changed “180%.” He also directed folks to visit the county’s website – http://dpw.lacounty.gov/care/ – to find additional information.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Deputy of Emergency Operations John Tripp said that the threat of flood is still high and the fire department, as first responders for rescue, will maintain an increased level of staffing.
Gail Farber, director of L.A. County Public Works. said that there is an ongoing assessment of the hillsides and public works is monitoring 24/7. She noted that while there are no specific debris basins she is worried about, all are being watched and all above the evacuation areas are the most at risk. L.A. County and Glendale Public Works has been active in the area, driving throughout the foothills to check sandbag placement, seeing if any had been washed away and replacing those damaged. If the sandbags are in the wrong place, they can be washed away becoming part of the problem.
Law enforcement has a strong presence in every evacuated neighborhood and are being diligent in checking every car entering these areas.
To see video of weather in the foothills, visit www.cvweekly.com, click on videos/weather watch 2010/ then scroll down a little to view on web or iTunes. You must have an updated version of Quicktime to view.