Planning for Disaster

From suspending garbage pickup to battening down the hatches with a declared emergency, several areas of California are preparing for El Niño in different ways. In cases of inclement weather, Los Angeles officials are considering stopping the local pickup of garbage, according to the Los Angeles Times. “When residents put their trash bins on the curb, the containers sometimes block storm drains, leaving water to form puddles in low-lying areas or flow down the street,” according to the Times. “A relatively small amount of fast-moving water can also knock a trash bin over and carry the bin — or its contents — to another location, where it can clog the system and hasten flooding.”

The call would be made 72 hours in advance. “Suspending trash pickup would help ensure that there would be less debris on the streets that could cause problems,” city officials told the Times.

The department is encouraging residents to sign up for the NotifyLA system, which sends voice, text and email messages to residents and businesses during emergencies and disasters, Kate Hutton, a spokeswoman with the city's Emergency Management Department, told the Times. “The department would use that system as well as the media to spread the word about any changes to trash service,” she said.

In another area, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors is already calling for a proclamation of local emergency, according to the Idyllwild Town Crier.

“With this proclamation of local emergency in place before the effects of El Niño are felt in Riverside County, the legal processes will help to expedite mitigation activities in flood-prone areas, and the resource requesting process will help in response and recovery efforts. Mitigation and preparedness efforts are essential to keeping our residents and critical infrastructure safe,” wrote emergency management department director Kim Saruwatari in a memo to the board.” According to the Town Crier, “The county has prepared a Concept of Operations plan that defines the roles and responsibility of county agencies if dangerous flooding occurs. The plan addresses topics such as mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.”


For more information on El Niño potential hazards and the preparations that are being made, visit