At a press conference Thursday morning, Supervisor Michael Antonovich said he will ask the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to approve his request that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaim the county area affected by the Station Fire and subsequently the flood/mudflow a State of Emergency.
By Mary O’Keefe
If signed, the request 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.
The storms that have pounded the foothills since Sunday night have resulted in debris basins filling almost to capacity and the evacuations of a total of 1232 homes in the Station Fire affected areas.
“The storms are not over,” warned Gail Farber, director of L.A. County Public Works.
Heavy rains are predicted to hit later this morning and continue to early Friday. Farber said that at this point the debris basins have done what they were designed to do.
“There have been no major debris flows,” she added.
Public works and emergency response officials all warned residents that there is still a danger and that if they have been placed under evacuation orders and haven’t left now is the time.
“Mudflow is likely today,” said John Tripp, Chief Deputy of Emergency Operations for the L.A. County Fire Department. “We anticipate we may not be able to utilize roads.”
About 75% of residents that have been told to evacuate have complied with those orders throughout L.A. County.
“We have had about 80% of our residents [comply]. We are asking those 20% [who have stayed in their homes] to leave today. This is the time to go,” said La Cañada Mayor Laura Olhasso.
Officials stressed the danger is still very real and that not only evacuees should obey the request to leave but “looky-loos” should stay out of the area.
“We were contacted by the fire department and told of line of people that were standing on the rim of the Pickens’ Canyon debris basin with their animals. They [appeared] to be walking their dogs. If one of those animals got loose and slid down the side of the basin and their owner goes in after them and falls it could be fatal,” said L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Chief Neal Tyler.
As Capt. Mark Savage, PIO Officer for the LA Co. Fire Dept. said on Monday, “We urge the residents to comply with the evacuation order. We’re doing this for their safety and the safety of first responders. If they stay and something bad happens, we now have to go up there and put ourselves in greater risk to rescue them. So it’s a team effort here.”
To see the full press conference, visit our videos page on cvweekly.com