SGVJOURNAL, West Valley Journal, Monterey Park News

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BEACHCOMBER: Windstorm Devastates West San Gabriel Valley

  • By David Barron

By Dave Barron
Winds blowing as hard as 80 miles per hour struck west San Gabriel Valley on early Dec. 1 causing devastation throughout the Valley.
Foothill communities to the north, as well as Alhambra, San Gabriel, Temple City and Arcadia, were devastated with thousands of trees knocked over and more than 400,000 homes and businesses lost power.

The windstorm impacted thousands of lives in the west San Gabriel Valley and caused some emergency planners to re-think the whole process of preparing for an emergency.

Many people were without power for several days, some as long as a week, as city and power crews struggled to remove tree trunks and branches and re-install power lines.

Modern technology and emergency services depend on electric power. After a few hours without electricity, in some cases, days, we figure out how important it is to our way of life.

Old technology such as transistor radios that operate on a couple of tiny batteries are more valuable than ever. That’s because our main means of communications and news fail without electricity.

Our computers, television sets, radios, and even new telephone units fail without electricity and cannot get timely information. Heating and air conditioning systems also fail because they need electric power is needed for the igniter and blowers that force the heated air throughout house.

Electric powered garage doors could not be opened if you didn’t have access to the interior of the building.
If emergency responders need to communicate with people, it will be very difficult without power.  In the hardest hit areas, emergency workers will have to go door-to-door to check on people and pass out vital information.

It would certainly be difficult to implement a mass scale emergency response immediately, but within 24-hours, they should be in place.
SoCal Edison reported they sent people out door-to-door to pass out information to residents – but that was not until the third day of power outages.

As for going out to search for emergency supplies, local streets were blocked off by large trees and branches.

Kent Shocknek, early morning anchorman for KCBS, Channel 2 News, speaking at the Rose Queen Luncheon Tuesday, told about his efforts to get to work at 4 a.m. in the morning. He drove a four-wheel drive vehicle over neighbors’ lawns as he zig-zagged around fallen trees and power lines.

There are many stories floating around about personal incidents and power outages. Although not really reported in the major newspapers there were lengthy power outages in Rosemead, Monterey Park and Montebello. Several friends and relatives had to dump the contents of their refrigerator after three days without electricity.

Others had to check into a hotel – outside of town—to shower, change, eat and get some sleep in a warm environment.

Can you just imagine what it will be like when the really BIG earthquake hits southern California?

I am getting ready with some basic emergency supplies and searching for a place in my home or yard where I can get them if needed. I am not sure of how I am going to do this, but I’ll have to do some research on the subject.

Unfortunately, it looks like you and I am going to have to look after ourselves.What are you going to do about preparing for the BIG ONE?

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