By Mary O’KEEFE
The ash and loose rock that have been left in the aftermath of the Station Fire have created prime conditions for unhealthy air quality during Santa Ana winds, and flood and mudslides as rains from a predicted moderate El Nino come this winter.
Glendale city officials hosted two meetings, Saturday and Monday, to explain strategy, answer questions and warn residents of the winter to come.
“Get ready now,” advised Steve Zurn, director of public works for the city of Glendale.
Residents from Glendale and the unincorporated area of La Crescenta filled the seats at the La Crescenta Center for Spiritual Living both on Saturday morning and during a second meeting on Monday night. Representatives from the city of Glendale, Los Angeles County Public Works and Flood Control District, Crescenta Valley Water District, U.S. Forest Service and Congressmen Adam Schiff’s office were just a few of the agencies that were on hand to answer questions from concerned community members about their plans for the winter weather and what it holds in store for Crescenta Valley.
“Although we are half Glendale city and [half] unincorporated area of La Crescenta we don’t think of ourselves as county or city,” said Glendale Councilmember John Drayman to the audience.
He added the community is Crescenta Valley and that is why it is important that the city, county and forest service are all work together to plan for the possible flooding this winter, as well as rock and mudslides due to the Station Fire. Drayman praised the residents for being proactive in preparing for the upcoming winter season and noted that the city began formulating a plan before the fire had left the area.
Zurn shared a Power Point presentation on what the city had done and what will be done in the future. Assessment teams from both Glendale and L.A. County have been walking the neighborhoods in and around the Deukmejian Wilderness Park area.
“We went the extra effort to evaluate inside and outside the park. We [got] together with L.A. County flood control to address the park; what is in it and what will come out of it,” Zurn said.
Equipment has been staged at Deukmejian almost as soon as the fire subsided. About 2,000 linear feet of K-rails, cement barriers used in flood control, have been purchased. County flood spokesperson Chris Stone said that debris basins have been cleaned out, and will continue to be monitored and cleaned as required.
“All the basins are below the watershed,” Stone said.
Workers will release recycled water from areas above Markridge Road to study the possible flow of flood water.
“If [residents] have any questions about anything concerning flood or mudslides, please call us. We will meet with neighbors and work with the entire neighborhood,” Zurn said.
He added it was important that before a resident begins to work on a flood control system for his or her home, they need to make certain the water will not be diverted to another home.
“We want to make sure we are diverting flows away from the house but not creating a problem for your next door neighbor,” he said.
One resident said that most of her neighbors are complying with rules for clearance and preparation but one neighbor was not. She wondered what the city could do about that type of situation.
Zurn said that his team had encountered a few problems in that regard and would work closely with the neighbor to comply.
Another question from the audience concerned Glendale Unified School District and the plans for children when Santa Ana winds increase the ash in the air. There were also questions as to plans for evacuation of students if a flood or mudslide occurred during the school day.
Zurn said the school district was part of the planning team, however there was not a district representative at either Saturday’s or Monday’s meeting.
District Superintendent Dr. Michael Escalante said he, nor his staff, had been informed of either meeting. He added that the school continues to monitor the air quality and during the fire had hired an outside company who specializes in air quality.
“They are available to us anytime we need them,” he said. The Air Quality Management District [AQMD] sends alerts to the district when air quality is determined unhealthy.
“During the fire we had outstanding communications with [Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station] Capt. Dave Silversparre. We would meet with him each morning. We hope to have those same kinds of conversations with the city,” Escalante said.
Another meeting that will be looking winter planning is planned for 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Rosemont Middle School. The CV Chamber of Commerce, CV Town Council, CV Fire Safe Council and CV Community Association are sponsoring the community meeting, “What’s Next-The Aftermath of the Station Fire.”
The meeting will cover subjects from what L.A. County Public Works are doing to shore up the hillside to what residents can do and will include information on insurance issues.
The Glendale school district has been invited to the meeting as well.