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California

L.A. leaders warn Angelenos to prepare for ‘Godzilla’ El Niño storms

Mayor Eric Garcetti

Mayor Eric Garcetti prepares to sign Executive Directive No. 14 at the city’s new Emergency Operations Center on Friday. 

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

A “Godzilla” El Niño is on the way, and Los Angeles city leaders are warning residents to be prepared. 

After years of drought, storms this winter could bring heavy rains, floods and mudslides. To prepare for the emergencies that will probably accompany those disasters, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an executive directive to create an El Niño Task Force made up of 13 city departments that together will focus on short-term and long-term preparations. 

“The city must be ready for the immediate effects and the subsequent aftermath that come with heavy rainfall,” Garcetti said at a Friday news conference. “The actions we take to prepare for any and all of these impacts have the potential to directly affect our livelihoods and indeed ensure the survival of our city.”

This winter’s El Niño is expected to be comparable to the ones experienced in 1982-83 and 1997-98. During the 1997 storms, 17 people died and Los Angeles experienced $500 million in damage. An El Niño storm in January 1983 destroyed 1,000 homes between Santa Barbara and the Mexican border.

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In anticipation of communication problems that could accompany a disaster, the city signed an agreement with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon to share network capabilities in the aftermath of an emergency. That means cellphone customers could access voice and data services on any of the four networks. 

A second contract with AshBritt Environmental and CTI Environmental would provide food and shelters to Angelenos should the city run out of resources after a disaster. 

If you’re prepared for the big earthquake, you have the fundamentals to be prepared for El Niño.
Jim Featherstone, general manager of the Emergency Management Department

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“If you’re prepared for the big earthquake, you have the fundamentals to be prepared for El Niño,” said Jim Featherstone, general manager of the Emergency Management Department. 

In addition to an earthquake kit, property owners should clean out their gutters and consider buying flood insurance, Featherstone said. 

Los Angeles residents can also sign up for emergency email, voice and text alerts on ElNiñoLA.com

For more news on California, follow @TheCityMaven.

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