On Saturday, November 21, 2015, the Neighborhood Council Emergency Preparedness Alliance held its first event, “El Niño, Wet Weather Preparedness: We’re Ready … Are You?”  City Councilmembers David Ryu and Paul Koretz sponsored the Emergency Preparedness event held at the city’s Command Central Emergency Headquarters at 500 E. Temple Street in downtown L.A. The three-hour presentation was organized by the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (BONC) with Empower LA and attended by BONC Chairman Len Shaffer, Empower LA GM Grayce Liu and representatives of L.A.’s Emergency Management Department, LAFD, Jet Propulsion Laboratories, the Department of Public Works: Bureau of Street Services & Bureau of Sanitation, as well as Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell, and Councilmen Ryu and Koretz. About 75 NC reps and stakeholders from around Los Angeles showed up to hear what efforts are being made by the city to get prepared.

The Rains They Are A’ Coming!

The message of this half-day event was that “Godzilla  El Niño ” is certainly on its way, predicted to hit in late December or January, with back to back storms. Dr. William Patzert from JPL said El Niño can double our normal rainfall and is expected to show up as steady rainfall over a long duration of time. Despite the need for water, he recommended residents continue to practice water conservation as even with El Niño’s storms, the drought will still continue.

Steps to Prepare:

Ways you can get ready for the rains include the following:

  • Clear rain gutters & downspouts at your residence
  • Call L.A. Sanitation to remove debris from catch basins
  • Install rain barrels to prevent flooding (DWP rebates are available for up to 4 barrels, per property)
  • Purchase a camp stove to ensure a way to heat food if the power goes out
  • Stockpile non-perishable food, water, and extra medication (and food for pets)
  • Pick up sandbags from your local Fire Department to slow/prevent water flow
  • Reduce water use during heavy rains & turn off sprinklers
  • Make copies of emergency documents and store them on the Cloud
  • Appoint someone (from outside the area) to serve as an emergency contact, should family members get separated
  • Set your phone up to receive emergency alerts (
  • Look into purchasing Flood Insurance if you are in a flood-prone area
  • Create emergency kits for your home & car

Read up on more emergency preparedness steps at:

What Departments Are Doing to Prepare

In an effort to better prepare everyone for the rising storms, the city officials each outlined the steps their department has taken to better prepare.

Charles Turhollow, P.E., division manager for DPW’s Bureau of Sanitation described the Bureau’s efforts in cleaning debris basins and inspecting storm drains. But even so, with El Niño they expect ponding on streets and the possibility of sewer system overflows. Mr. Turhollow suggested that residents NOT put trash barrels out during heavy rains because driving rain can move them, creating a hazard in the roadways. The same is true for any bulky items – remove them from sidewalks and roadways so they don’t end up blocking storm drains.

The public can report any flooding issues that arise at: 213 485-7575. There is also a Customer Care Center for general sanitation issues at: 800 773-2489.

L.A. Fire Department’s Chief Donald Reyes, who is a 9/11 veteran on the Swift Water Rescue Team, said that the Fire Department now has Type 3 engines which are 4-wheel drive and can maneuver in narrower roadways and hilly areas. In an El Niño emergency, he said they would be calling on CERT members from the community for assistance. He also stated that LAFD is working with the Department of Fish & Wildlife in assessing homeless encampments around the city to get them out of dangerous areas.

Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell said temporary emergency shelters will be set up as part of the City’s emergency preparedness plans. More information will be available at: and through the emergency alert system that residents must opt-in to:

To better prepare yourself for the arrival of El Niño, you can attend the two remaining city Regional Town Hall meetings (two were previously held in November):

December 3, 2015, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Granada Hills Recreation Center, 16730 Chatsworth Street, Granada Hills, CA

December 9, 2015, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Westchester Recreation Center, 9100 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles.

You can also attend the next Alliance for Emergency Preparedness (organized by BONC/Empower LA) on December 19, 2015 at a location to be announced.

To find out more about the rain barrel rebate programs go to the DWP website or call: 888 376-3314. To call DPW Bureau of Street Services, call “311” or visit:




By taking steps to education one another about the coming El Niño, we can all get through this together.