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L.A. Mayor Karen Bass declares local state of emergency over storms

A boulder sits atop a crushed car.
A boulder sits atop a crushed car on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu on Tuesday after severe storms caused flooding, mud and debris flows.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on Friday declared a local state of emergency after storms pounded the city earlier this week, causing mudslides, flooding and road closures.

The city is expecting another storm to move in by Saturday, raising not only the possibility of more damage from the rain, but hindering officials’ ability to address the damage already caused.

City workers have already responded to thousands of storm-related requests in past weeks, most of them while storms continued to drench the city, according to the city’s Department of Public Works.

The Bureau of Street Services has received 557 calls about tree-related emergencies, as well as 610 calls about landslides and mudslides, and 1,542 about potholes.

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Meanwhile, LA Sanitation & Environment has reported 385 requests to clear flooding caused by clogged storm drains and catch basins. About 38% of that work has been completed, officials said in a statement.

The bureau has also assisted the California Department of Transportation’s response to a massive sinkhole, 50 feet wide and 30 feet deep, that emerged in Chatsworth.

Bass’ emergency declaration directs city departments to continue assessing estimates on storm damage and seek state and federal assistance. It also asks the governor’s office to waive regulations that would slow recovery efforts.

Close to 105,000 L.A. County residents live in areas that could flood in a 100-year storm, and it has a 1% chance of happening each year, according to the NOAA.

Jan. 11, 2023

California has been battered by a series of storms for weeks, with eight atmospheric river-fueled events since Christmas.

Although Friday was dry and cloudy in Los Angeles, rain is expected Saturday, with “moderate to brief heavy rain” and the possibility of minor flooding in creeks and urban areas. About an inch and a half to 3 inches of precipitation is possible on the coast and valleys, the National Weather Service said.

With hillsides already drenched from past storms, rockslides and mudflows are expected to be a continued threat.

By Sunday afternoon, another storm is expected to move in with isolated thunderstorms possible through Monday.

This is the third local state of emergency the city is under; others include COVID-19 and homelessness.

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