LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Board of Supervisors has learned that the Army Corps of Engineers cannot fund the $4.5 million of emergency maintenance needed to combat the effects of local storms.

County Department of Public Works Director Gail Farber said the agency told her staffers Monday, Jan. 4, that the money wasn’t available, after signaling for months that it was working to access funds.

Farber was part of a team updating the board on preparations for El Niño. Supervisor Hilda Solis proposed sending a letter to congressional delegates asking for their help. The board voted unanimously to do so.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich railed at staffers for not informing the board earlier.

“Right now, we’re playing catch up right in the middle of a storm,” Antonovich said.

County workers have been preparing for months for an anticipated series of heavy winter storms generated by El Niño. As heavy rainfall began Tuesday, Jan.6, staffers opened an emergency operations center, closed mountain roads and bike paths along riverways, and rented additional heavy equipment and moved it to areas most likely to need repairs.

Sheriff’s deputies have been working for months to relocate homeless individuals living along riverways and the number of encampments has dropped significantly, according to a sheriff’s spokesman.

 “Our team is out there again in the rain,” the spokesman said.

Seven more shelters for the homeless have been funded and opened Monday and Tuesday. The county is also offering free rides to winter shelters from pre-set pickup points.

Paramedics with swiftwater rescue training were on alert, while other firefighters were distributing sandbags to areas at risk of flooding.

Animal Care and Control employees were geared up to manage the potential for animal evacuations.

Getting timely information to the public is a key focus of the emergency preparedness team, which set up a website at www.lacounty.gov/elnino.

A Twitter feed on the site using the hashtags LARain and LAFlood provides real time updates on traffic and road closures, flood areas and available resources. Residents can also go to www.lacountygov/elnino for more information.