LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Southland residents were asked to remain indoors today as Tropical Storm Hilary took aim at Southern California, with heavy rainfall and flooding expected toward the middle of the day.
With Southern California under a tropical storm watch for the first time in its history, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a State of Emergency, and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass did likewise and activated the city’s Emergency Operations Center at Level 2 — one level short of the most critical status.
“We asked Angelinos to stay inside today,” Bass said. “The timing of this could become earlier. We know that storms are moving fast so it could change. So please stay at home.”
Hilary weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm off the coast of Baja California, but it was still expected to bring heavy rain, strong winds and likely dangerous flooding to some areas, particularly the mountains and the Antelope Valley.
The storm was expected to make landfall near San Diego early Sunday afternoon. The National Weather Service warned of “potentially historic amounts of rainfall” that was “expected to cause life-threatening to locally catastrophic flash, urban and arroyo flooding including landslides, mudslides, and debris flows through early Monday morning.”
Southland residents were especially urged to avoid driving, hiking or going to the beach during the storm.
Los Angeles Fire Chief Kristin Crowley, the city’s incident commander for the storm, said 1.5 to 3 inches of rain was forecast for the Los Angeles area, along with winds of 20 to 30 mph. The Antelope Valley and San Gabriel Mountain areas, outside Los Angeles city limits, were expected to get the brunt of the storm, with 3 to 7 inches of rain and stronger winds, Crowley said.
Flash flooding and coastal flooding and dangerous rip tides were also expected.
Crowley said Angelenos can pick up free ready-to-fill sandbags at neighborhood fire stations.
The storm is expected to remain in the Southland through Monday morning, likely clearing out by early afternoon, with scattered thunderstorms possible Tuesday.
Bass said Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho would decide later Sunday whether to cancel classes Monday.
During a Saturday news conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said a County Emergency Operation Center will be established Sunday to manage department resources.
Further, Luna said the department has been working with its homeless outreach partners, including the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and Union Station, to connect the unhoused with temporary housing resources.
“They gave P.A. announcements of the impending storm and potential dangers and … will continue to fly over them until the end of the storm,” Luna said. “Additionally, LASD will collaborate with local law enforcement who have jurisdiction in the waterways, to assist them and any potential issues that may arise.”
During the storm, Luna said patrol units will drive along the roadways at the top of riverbeds to urge anyone living in the areas to leave and seek safer conditions.
State and local officials said extra resources were in place, and utilities were also fully staffed to deal with any power outage or other emergencies.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was coordinating with California officials to provide support as needed. FEMA pre-positioned supplies at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, and a FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team deployed to the California Office of Emergency Services and is prepared to assist with any requests for federal assistance. Additional teams were on standby for deployment if necessary, officials said.
California’s National Guard contingent has also “strategically pre-positioned resources throughout Southern California” as part of the statewide effort to prepare for the storm, officials said Saturday.
Cal OES, through the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, has deployed a total of more than 700 local government firefighters and support staff, as well as 15 Swift Water Rescue teams, two Urban Search and Rescue companies and three Regional Urban Search and Rescue task forces.
Los Angeles opened several emergency shelters for the homeless. For those who cannot move, storm provisions including tarps and emergency blankets were being provided.
Pasadena opened an emergency shelter at 9 a.m. Sunday at Villa Parke Community Center, 363 E Villa St.
The Department of Water and Power has restoration crews fully staffed and ready to respond to any power outages. In the event of power outages or water main breakages, DWP customers can call 800-DIAL-DWP (342-5397).
Streets L.A., L.A. Sanitation and the Department of Transportation were taking steps to ensure roads are operational.
Animal shelters and specialized rescue teams are ready to respond to evacuations or rescue in the event of such incidents in the city.
Los Angeles County officials said all county parks, buildings and facilities would be closed Sunday and Monday, including, but not limited to:
— Picnic shelters;
— Multi-use trails;
— Botanical gardens and arboretums;
— Lakes and swim beaches;
— Pools and aquatic centers
— Natural areas and nature centers
— Performance venues.
While the parks are not fenced in, visitors are encouraged to stay home.
Coastal areas will also be dealing with high surf that could create some flooding concerns in beach communities. Forecasters said surf of 4 to 7 feet is possible at southeast- and south-facing beaches, along with strong rip currents — with Catalina Island “most vulnerable” to the strong swells.
Many beach cities were scrambling to prepare for the high surf. From Long Beach to Orange County, cities deployed bulldozers to build berms on beaches to protect coastal properties, and sandbags were being provided for residents to protect their properties.
With Catalina Island residents advised to leave the island as a precaution, the city of Long Beach announced plans to open a temporary shelter to support those needing a place to go. The emergency shelter will be located at Silverado Park, 1545 W. 31st St., and will provide necessities including food, water and beds, as well as basic medical services. Officials said it was currently set up to accommodate 75 individuals, and if additional shelter need is identified, the city will open other sites.
Huntington Beach officials urged residents to secure outdoor items such as furniture and umbrellas and be prepared for possible power outages by keeping cell phones and other devices charged.
Sandbags were also available at many Orange County Fire Authority stations throughout the area. A full list is available at ocfa.org.
Officials at LAX, Hollywood/Burbank Airport, Long Beach Airport and Orange County’s John Wayne Airport advised travelers to check with their airlines for possible flight delays or cancellations.
Hurricane safety tips and resources can be viewed at noaa.gov/hurricane-prep.
The tropical storm watch covers the entirety of Los Angeles County, plus Orange County coastal and inland areas and the Santa Ana Mountains and foothills.
A tropical storm has not made landfall in California since 1939.
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