Areas throughout Los Angeles County felt the impact of record rainfall this week. Bel Air alone saw more than a foot of rain after roughly two straight days of virtually uninterrupted rainfall. In the areas around Beverly Glen and Beverly Crest, some residents were displaced and some homes were evacuated. Debris and mudslides were also reported throughout the canyon neighborhoods.
“This storm caused major damage, particularly in our hillside communities, where there were at least four landslides and several road closures,” Los Angeles City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, 5th District, said. “City personnel have been working around the clock to ensure everyone remains safe, and personal property loss is mitigated as much as possible. The clear weather [during the day on Feb. 7] did provide some relief, but additional rain [forecasted] could make the situation worse, depending on soil saturation levels. It is important that all Angelenos remain vigilant.”
While the hills might have seen the worst of the storm, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported on Feb. 6 that approximately 6,600 customers were without power. Other cities throughout the county felt the impact of the rainfall, including West Hollywood, whose Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers pointed out how the storms shined a harsh light on critical issues facing residents.
“The intensity of the recent storm and the storms we experienced last year have exposed a new scale of weather-related concerns and continue to draw emphasis to the critical importance of stable and safe housing for all people,” Byers said. “There are many tenants dealing with landlords whose long-term neglect has increased the threat of these storms and thousands of unhoused individuals across our region face limited options for shelter support. We have an important role to play in addressing these housing and infrastructure issues across the region as climate change continues to intensify these storms.”
The county’s thousands of unhoused individuals were also affected, and Yaroslavsky said officials used what resources they had to help.
“The city, county and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority activated six additional shelters for people experiencing homelessness, in addition to the seven previously established winter shelters,” she said. “My homeless outreach team was on the ground throughout the storm, checking in with the unhoused and offering them transportation to shelter.”
Yaroslavsky said that even with the additional assistance, however, the storm showcased how much work is left to be done with the homeless crisis.
“The reality is that this was a very difficult storm for our unhoused population, and that is why we’re working so hard to bring interim beds online and bring people inside,” she said.
Looking ahead, Yaroslavsky added that there is much work to do to make Los Angeles better. “City departments worked tirelessly in preparation for this storm, but there is still a lot we could learn for future storm planning,” she said. “My team and I were out delivering sand bags and clearing storm drains during the storm, and it is clear that there are additional short-term interventions needed in the future. Things like additional K-rails and sand bags in hillside areas, and parking restrictions in flood-prone areas.”
Yarovslavsky said that these issues, as well looking at the integrity of hillside, how the zoning code can make for long-term stability and resiliency of the power grid, were issues the City Council will be addressing in the immediate future.