By Charly SHELTON
El Niño is coming and it’s going to hit Southern California very hard. The winter after the 2009 Station Fire brought rains and massive debris flows which affected the Crescenta Valley. We are six years separated from the floods of that winter and still battling the debris flows that came down and filled local debris basins. Now with what is been dubbed “Godzilla El Niño” coming this winter, we can expect possibly record-breaking amounts of rain to hit the Crescenta Valley. With the rains come the floods and those left unprepared could see flood damage. The City of Glendale held its second in a series of El Niño community meetings on Monday at the Center for Spiritual Living on Dunsmore Avenue. The goal of these meetings is to prepare local residents for the coming onslaught of rain both to secure and safeguard their homes and to be prepared in the event of disaster or evacuation.
“We talk about how residents can prepare, have emergency plans in place, how to fill a sandbag and contact information that they should have on hand when there is an emergency,” said Eliza Papzian, Community Outreach assistant for City of Glendale. “With El Niño, what we’re preparing for is wetter than average conditions. So yes, we do get rain once in a while, but with El Niño we’re preparing for heavy rain storms. Risk of flooding increases when you’re suffering from a drought, and that is the case here in L.A. and in California in general.”
Sandbags are available for all residents from any local fire station. They will provide each resident 10 unfilled sandbags, which can then be taken to one of five locations around Glendale and the Crescenta Valley to fill with sand. The City has purchased sandbag filling machines specifically for this, and they will be set up at Dunsmore Park, Brand Park, Lower Scholl Canyon Park, the Sports Complex and the Fire Station 23/Chevy Chase Library parking lot.
“We also recommend inspecting all retaining wall drains, surface drains, ditches and anywhere else for signs of obstruction or malfunction. We recommend inspecting all slope areas for signs of bullying, surface cracks or slumping,” Papzian said.
In addition to the these, residents should inspect any cemented areas such as a patio or retaining wall for any cracks, check storm drains to make sure they are flowing properly and inspect your home’s roof for any loose shingles, holes or any other repairs that need to be made before the rains come.
If the floods come into your home, overtake you or you are evacuated, be sure to have any supplies and information ready to go in an emergency kit and make sure you know where that emergency kit is when you need it. One thing many people forget in an evacuation, Papzian said, is medication and crating for pets. Any medication or pertinent information needed for pets also should be kept in the kit, as during an evacuation pets will need to be boarded and will need to have their supplies with them, too.
If in the home during flooding, residents should know where water, electric and gas shut off valves are and be able to get to them quickly. If in a vehicle, do not try and cross a flooded road and do not head towards the flood, Papzian said. Have a vehicle kit made as well so if a flood strikes you are always prepared.
For more information and to find out how you can get ready for El Niño, visit elninoready.org.