Governor Schwarzenegger has directed the state Office of Emergency Services (OES) to prepare for the upcoming weather conditions that pose a serious threat of flooding, particularly in areas where the Southern California wildfires recently burned. OES is working with state and local officials to pre-position emergency assets, including swift water recue teams, watercraft and California National Guard (CNG) helicopters. The state has also opened emergency operation centers in Sacramento and Los Alamitos.
"Projected weather patterns in Southern California have caused us to raise our level of preparedness and pre-position emergency assets, particularly in response to the threat of floods that follow a devastating wildfire. My Office of Emergency Services is working with state, federal and local officials to ensure that personnel and equipment are ready to deploy," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "I encourage people in dangerous areas to take every precaution; prepare for the rains, review and update your family emergency plans and identify safe routes to higher ground. It is also important to monitor the latest weather reports and listen for any warnings or instructions from local officials."
Additionally, Governor Schwarzenegger has offered to deploy emergency resources from California to the states of Oregon and Washington in response to the extreme weather occurring in the Pacific Northwest.
OES is working closely with the National Weather Service (NWS) and county emergency managers in Southern California. In addition to coordinating regular conference calls with the NWS, OES is conducting regular conference calls with emergency managers from Southern California counties, as well as representatives of FEMA and OES at the Joint Field Office in Pasadena, to identify potential resource needs and issues. Staff in the OES Southern Region are also reviewing the region's concept of operations for winter weather emergencies.
In response to the rains and the activation of the Orange and San Bernardino County Emergency Operations Centers, OES activated its Regional Emergency Operations Center at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos and the State Operations Center at OES Headquarters in Sacramento.
OES is also coordinating with the CNG to place pilots and equipment on standby. Four CNG helicopters equipped with swift water rescue equipment will be pre-deployed to the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos by 6 p.m. today.
The Department of Water Resources has pre-positioned flood-fighting supplies at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos.
The California Conservation Corps, in support and coordination with federal and local partners, have also been actively sandbagging in burn areas where mudflow may occur.
The state's water boards are working with local officials to protect water quality by keeping ash and debris out of waterways. By accelerating restoration of burned areas and ensuring least-impact debris removal, the waterways that carry drinking water can be better protected.
In coordination with OES staff assigned to the Joint Field Office in Pasadena, FEMA has developed a contingency plan to coordinate federal support if needed and requested by OES and to notify both federal and state field staff of imminent threats related to the weather. FEMA has also deployed a representative to the emergency operations center in Los Alamitos.
In addition, the Multi-Agency Support Group assembled by OES and FEMA has been using the reports developed by Burned Area Emergency Response teams after the fires to implement short-term actions to reduce the risk of mud and debris flows in and below areas impacted by the fires.