An emergency meeting of the Sierra Madre City Council was held Thursday at noon to address the widespread damage, power outages and winds that continue to plague the city.
“When the sun goes down, it’s going to get cold, it’s going to be dark and people may be a little distracted, they may be a little nervous … and afraid,” said Mayor John Buchanan.
“We don’t know when power is coming back on,” said Mayor Buchanan. “It is a good bet that it will not be back on tonight.”
How Much Damage is There?
Hundreds of tons of debris fill the Sierra Madre streets, and hundreds of trees have fallen. As of 12 p.m., 31 buildings reported damage in Sierra Madre; most of them were residential.
One Sierra Madre family spent last night camping out in City Hall, it being the only building in town to have heat and power. A tree had fallen on their home on Auburn Avenue.
Two homes have been “red tagged,” meaning that they are completely uninhabitable. Two more have been “yellow tagged,” meaning the conditions are not stable.
Dealing With the Water and Debris Situation
Water wells were down for a time last night, but they are now running on a generator. Mayor Buchanan is urging residents to conserve water, saying that the generators could shut down any time.
“Working off of generators is not a long-term solution,” said Buchanan, noting that the water is safe and uncontaminated.
“The worst is not over yet,” said Mayor Buchanan. Trees and power poles have been weakened, making it easier for smaller wind gusts to topple them over. Residents are encouraged to stay indoors and to not attempt to clean up debris after the sun goes down. Do not approach downed power lines or unidentifiable debris in yards or streets. Live wires can be deadly.
“We need the streets as clear as we possibly can have for emergency response,” said Mayor Buchanan. “[It’s] not a good night to walk the dog.”
What Will Happen Tonight?
Public Safety will only be responding to emergency calls tonight. They will not be cleaning the streets due to predicted heavy winds.
Mayor Buchanan said that 911 response may be delayed due to the reach of the storm and the city’s small staff.
“We have a very thin staff, as you know. People wear two to three hats,” he said. Residents are advised to only call 911 if they have a true emergency.
Residents are encouraged to check on any neighbors they have not heard from and the elderly.
Tonight’s wind will likely bring more debris and toppled trees. The full scope of the damage will not be known for some days.
“I encourage you to stay home if it’s safe,” said Mayor Buchanan. “You may want to consider not staying in Sierra Madre if your situation is not safe or if you’re not comfortable.”
Even though the wind has weakened, it has the potential to reach 45 mph tonight.
It could take weeks for Sierra Madre to recover from the storm.
“We’ve come through a lot of things like this before,” said Mayor Buchanan. “It’s going to take a long time for us to clean it up. The priorities of the city are public safety, life safety, and trying to get the main thoroughfares open. We may not be getting the tree off your car tonight, or the debris blocking your driveway.”
Sustained wind gusts were recorded at 70-90mph in the Sierra Madre canyons last night, and at 68 mph in the flatland.
What's Open, What's Closed?
City Hall remains heated and powered with generators, and is available for shelter.
All City programs remain closed.
Sierra Madre’s general city phone number will be staffed for the next 24 hours. Call (626) 355-7135.