With several days of rain expected this week, Riverside County today (1/5) activated its emergency operations center through Friday. The precaution, in addition to keeping emergency responders on alert, also reminds residents to be serious about preparing for potential El Nino storms in order to protect their families.
“We know our region is at risk for flooding and mudslides even when a storm is not severe, so we want to be ready,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman John J. Benoit. “We are watching areas that have had problems in the past and we want residents to remember that keeping your family safe doesn’t just happen. You must prepare before the heavy rain arrives.”
With the emergency-center activation, representatives from more than a dozen county departments have come together in the County Administrative Center in Riverside to monitor storm activity and be ready to act quickly.
In preparation for El Nino, the county has conducted nearly 50 community-preparedness meetings countywide and held planning and coordination meetings with local, state, tribal and federal agencies. The Riverside County Flood Control District continues to inspect and maintain flood channels to ensure they flow freely and can handle storm runoff. The district maintains contact with the National Weather Service to monitor an advanced warning system and track storms and floods. District crews stand ready for quick response in any emergency.
The Transportation Department will to deploy crews around the county based on reports of trouble spots, and monitors low-lying areas and hillsides where flooding and slides have been an issue in the past. The Fire Department will respond in the event of emergencies and can quickly staff specially trained water rescue teams. Sand and sand bags have been strategically located at fire stations around the county for public use.
The new Emergency Management Department monitors conditions countywide and coordinates with other county departments and with cities to make up-to-date information available on conditions countywide.
“The county has been working with cities, special districts and tribal partners to prepare for El Niño,” said Kimberly Saruwatari, director of the department. “I urge all our residents to be prepared, as well, to keep their families safe.”
The National Weather Service anticipates showers, sometimes with heavy rainfall, in parts of Riverside County this week. Storm concerns are common in Riverside County. A flash flood five months ago washed out a bridge on I-10 in Desert Center and a year ago, a flash flood in the San Jacinto Valley caused mudslides and inundated vehicles.
The Emergency Management Department urges residents to:
* Be aware about flood hazards near your home
* Keep a list of out-of-state family contacts handy
* Plan escape routes in case your neighborhood floods
* Prepare a stock of food, water, batteries and other necessities in advance
* Monitor radio and TV news closely for information about weather conditions and local flooding
* Stay away from flood channels and flowing water
* NEVER try to cross flooded areas in your vehicle. Turn Around—Don’t Drown.
Residents and visitors are encouraged to use the preparation tips and information on the www.RivCoReady.org web site. The Web site also includes locations for emergency sand and sandbag, along with links to additional information. Updates throughout the storm will also be sent out via Twitter under the username @RivCoReady.