Posted on 14 January 2016 by La Habra Journal
The city of La Habra Heights is looking to inform residents about road repair.
By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal
The long awaited weather phenomena known as El Niño introduced itself again to the area during the first weeks of January, sputtering rain while blasting thunderous bolts of lightning. While much of California welcomes the wet conditions after nearly a decade of drought, the city of La Habra Heights, nestled on dirt hills and acres of open space, finds itself preparing with caution for what some weather forecasters believe to be a powerful El Niño, or a strong storm caused by the warming of waters across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. “Southern California needs the rain and the snow to replenish our supply of water,” LH Heights Mayor Michael Higgins said. “My hope is that we will receive many small doses of rain that will allow the earth to absorb the water without excessive runoff.” City officials prepared for the storm by clearing infrastructure, but the mayor hopes residents find the time to analyze their own property and decide what needs to be done to prevent property damage from possible mudslides and flooding. Several months ago the city completed a survey of the storm and street drainage systems in preparation for a long wet winter, Higgins said. Potential problems, like drain blockage and overgrown waterways were pinpointed. “The city has since removed drain blockages, cleared waterways, and repaired certain street paving with drainage problems,” Higgins said. The city has done a great job of preparing for El Niño with the limited financial resources and public works personnel.” Although the city has done what it can in preparation for the worst, residents remain responsible for their own property. Sandbags remain available for free at the fire department and city hall while a pile of sand is kept at The Park to fill the sandbags. Residents are advised to bring their own shovel. And sandbags could also be found at some big box stores, the mayor said, at little cost. The county of Los Angeles also recommends residents stay alerted by downloading its free app for smartphones. The app can be found at: www.dpw.lacounty.gov/theworks. “Ultimately residents need to make proactive preparations, including clearing drainage and water ways, diverting water that might enter their dwellings,” Higgins said. The mayor also recommends residents attend one of the many meetings held by the county Sheriff’s Department or Fire Department.
The city’s weed abatement program, while important for the upkeep against fire hazards, might have an effect on how the hills are able to drain water runoff, being much of the vegetation, which might make dirt hills more stable, is cleared in the process.
“Weed abatement and the severe drought we have experienced over the last few years have contributed to bare hillsides. This can make the hills vulnerable to excessive rain and possible landslides. The City is prepared to clear city streets that would prevent residents from ingress and egress,” Higgins said. El Nino was originally recognized by fishermen off the coast of South America during the 1600’s, with unusually warm water appearing in the Pacific Ocean, according to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. Wetter-than-average conditions can be expected in the Pacific Northwest, the website explains. And while the mountainous regions in California pack in heavy snow falls, and rain downpours on much of the state, relieving a bit of the drought conditions the area has suffered through for much of the new millennium, cities throughout the state should welcome the rainfall with caution and be prepared.
“Talking with many of our residents, I have the impression they are taking the potential threat of El Niño to their property very seriously,” Higgins said, “and [residents are] making appropriate preparations,”