El Niño Is Coming: Here’s How to Prepare

Glendale, along with Burbank and Pasadena, has partnered to help protect residents against the impending onslaught of El Niño.

El Niño is the changes in the patterns of trade winds across the Pacific Ocean, which can cause unusual warming in ocean temperatures and drastic weather conditions. Locals can expect rainfall that may lead to flooding and property damage.

GCC’s entire foundation is based on a steep slope. As a result, El Niño can bring down mud and debris from the canyon, according to Geology Professor John Leland.

“We are currently in the process of cleaning all our storm drains located throughout our campus,” said Nelson Oliveira, director of facilities and construction facilities. “Clean drains will allow the free flow of water moving from our upper campus to our lower campus.”

It has been noted that the San Fernando Complex buildings have been vulnerable to leaks in the past.

Oliveira and his team have implemented “preventive maintenance measures” in order to avert or greatly diminish property damages to the building and its contents.

One of the most important measures was to retrofit the roof of San Rafael. This retrofit included the replacement of the air handler unit located on the rooftop and renovation of two classrooms located on the third floor of the building.

The overall cost of this project was about $990,000 and included the roof retrofit that is warranted for 30 years, according to Oliveira.

A roof contractor has been hired to ensure all rooftop drainages are cleaned, including gutters and drains. Tree branches intruding onto rooftops are being cut back to avoid accumulation of debris.

“The college has utilized various funding sources to improve the rooftop conditions of our most vulnerable buildings,” Oliveira said. “We have invested over $200K to improve the conditions of our roofs.” Scheduled Maintenance & Special Repairs Plan, a one-time fund provided via Chancellor’s Office, was an important source for this funding.

Tom Lorenz, Glendale’s director of communications and community relations, said that the biggest area to be affected is the hillside communities.
“We have had fires in the hills recently, and as a result we’ve had an extraordinary dry season,” Lorenz said. “This has led to a lack of vegetation.”

Without bushes, shrubs and groundcover, the rain will bring all the mud and debris with it.

“For the flatlands, should the streets become flooded, do not drive through them because your vehicle can stall,” Lorenz said. “If the current on the street is going downhill and you are crossing, it could carry you away.”

Property owners need to take responsibility for their drains as well, according to Lorenz. Gutters need to be cleared out and sandbags should be set it in areas where flooding has occurred.

In Glendale, residents may pick up 10 free unfilled sandbags at Fire Station 21. There are five locations for residents to pick up the sand: Dunsmore Park, Brand Park, Lower Scholl Canyon Park, Sports Complex and Fire Station 23/Chevy Chase Library parking lot.

“The public works department has been working hard on checking that all the storm drains are cleared out,” Drew Sugars, Burbank’s public information officer, said. “If there is any debris blocking the drains, it can cause a real problem … the water would have no place to go.”

“We have done risk assessments on all city facilities and have been stockpiling emergency supplies,” said William Boyer, public information officer for Pasadena. “We have identified additional evacuation shelters — places where we believe there would be priority need of evacuations such as churches and senior citizen homes.”

The city of Pasadena asked members to sign up for Pasadena Local Emergency Alert System (PLEAS). PLEAS uses both text and voice messages to keep residents and community members in Pasadena informed in case of citywide or major emergencies, according to the city’s website. Subscribers will receive a message with the latest information and safety instructions.

For information on how to prepare for El Niño, please visit your city’s preparedness website.