Now that El Niño has officially arrived in Southern California, it is a great time to remind everyone of the important role the American Red Cross is plays in responding to the potential disasters that El Niño might bring and how we work together with our community partners to assist those in need.
We are hard at work to help those who suffer or are affected by disasters. For example, both the city and the county sheltering partnership to house homeless Angelenos during the inclement weather brought on by El Niño are supported by the Red Cross Los Angeles Region. We have led efforts to train Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (http://lahsa.org) staff in emergency sheltering, as well as planning and logistics for opening an additional 11 shelters. During the “interim” period the week of Jan. 4, the Red Cross actually went on standby to fully staff up to six shelters, including three in Los Angeles, because of the significant cold weather.
As we move forward in preparation for El Niño, the Red Cross Los Angeles Region will continue our readiness. Our 5 Territories across LA County are contacting their high-risk communities (risk for flood and mudslide) to check on their preparedness planning for this week. These include:
- Our volunteer disaster action team members are updating availability in the lead up to major storms in the forecast;
- We will be putting our 10 Emergency Response Vehicles on standby and filling the volunteer driver schedules for each vehicle prior to each storm;
- We have reached out to over two dozen of our most engaged faith-based partners (many in South LA and Watts) to update them with data and learn about their preparedness activities within the communities they serve;
- Our “Mass Care” team is updating availability for Sheltering teams prior to major storm forecasts, and the same is being done for Case Work, Health Services and Disaster Mental Health.
Under the threat of major El Niño-related disasters it is critical, now as much as ever, to ensure that everyone is prepared to react in cases of mudslides or flooding. Even if you do not live in a recognized flood zone a number of risks are still present, including a collapsed roof or increased risk for fire related disasters due the need to heat homes.
I urge everyone to be El Niño ready and to make a kit, create and practice an escape plan, and ensure that your surroundings are as safe as possible. Please visit our PrepareSoCal website for more information.
We are humbled and honored to be working alongside all of our amazing volunteers and partners as we respond to those in need with care, compassion and service.