Using their emergency powers, Supervisor Janice Hahn, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass each have declared a local state of emergency due to damage from a slew of winter storms and the impending threat from additional precipitation predicted for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Hahn signed her declaration on Tuesday, Jan. 10 regarding the spate of severe winter storms that have rolled into the county in the past few weeks, causing flooding on freeways, thoroughfares and even inside Los Angeles Union Station where train passengers needed to be transported across the pedestrian walkway by motorized golf carts.
In Chatsworth, a sinkhole the size of a house opened up on Iverson Road on Monday, Jan. 9 due to the force of torrential rains. A mother and her daughter in their Nissan, and a male driver and his passenger in a pickup truck, escaped from the dark, gaping, flooded hole. The mother and daughter needed to be hoisted from the wreckage by first responders.
Their vehicles fell into the cavernous gap in the road suddenly and without warning.
Crews from the L.A. Department of Public Works were working since then to shore up the gaping section of Iverson Road several yards south of columns that hold up the nearby 118 Freeway. On Wednesday, the sinkhole was estimated to be roughly 40 feet deep.
The county’s emergency declaration is in effect but still needs to be ratified by the full Board. That vote is set for Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the beginning of the next meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
A mudslide flooded parts of Fredonia Drive in Studio City during the storm on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Bass’ declaration, signed Friday, directs the city’s Emergency Operations Organization to take steps to protect life and property. It also asks Gov. Gavin Newsom to waive regulations to assist response and recovery efforts. The mayor also called for funds from the California Disaster Assistance Act.
So far, seven of nine winter storms have slammed into California, raising the levels of state reservoirs but also wreaking havoc on roadways and mass transit. The L.A to Azusa L (Gold) Line was stopped between South Pasadena and Southwest Museum Station when a tree tumbled onto the line’s overhead electric catenary lines. Repairs took four days and the line is operating on one track in that section, causing delays.
A mudslide caused flooding to parts of Studio City on Tuesday. Storms and floodwaters forced the closure of Mulholland Drive. The storms caused scattered power outages and debris flows.
Storms took the form of atmospheric river systems, bringing high winds, large amounts of rain as well as snow in the high elevations of the San Gabriel Mountains that form the county’s northern border.
The county’s emergency declaration may not draw in federal or state disaster funds. Instead, the declaration of a local emergency can help coordinate emergency responses from different jurisdictions.
“This will help us more quickly respond to and recover from the impacts of these storms with our state and federal partners,” said Hahn in a tweet on Jan. 10.
The next round of storms presents “conditions of disaster or of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property” according to the county’s declaration. The declaration goes on to say conditions “are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment, and facilities of the County, and require the combined forces of other political subdivisions to combat.”
Fire, police, sheriff, public works and power resources will be on high alert, ready to exercise mutual aid across various jurisdictions during the next round of winter storms.
So far, about 10 inches of rain have fallen on Southern California in the rain season. The Hollywood Reservoir saw 5.75 inches of rain in the 24 hours between Jan. 9 and Jan. 10.
The National Weather Services forecasts light rain hitting the region on Saturday morning, as rain intensity increases by late afternoon. Rain will continue into Sunday. About one inch of rain may fall in downtown Los Angeles, with twice as much expected in the foothills.
The sun will come out on Sunday but a new rainstorm is expected on Monday.
Why does it take politicians signing all these emergency proclamations to “speed things up” and “cut through the red tape”? Maybe just like, not have red tape?!?
— KarenBassProgressReport (@KBassProgReport) January 11, 2023
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City News Services contributed to this article.