Supervisors Approve Emergency Declaration for Storm-Impacted Area

City News Service

(CNS) – Riverside County supervisors Tuesday approved a resolution declaring a local state of emergency stemming from storm damage in the southeast Coachella Valley, where electrical transmission lines were knocked down during high winds and flooding, leaving hundreds without power for days.

In a 5-0 vote, the Board of Supervisors affirmed an emergency declaration issued by the Imperial Irrigation District within a day of the Aug. 30 monsoonal thunderstorms that wreaked havoc on the area around North Shore.

According to the Riverside County Emergency Management Department, 33 utility poles were toppled in gale-force winds, and flash floods caused additional property damage. Roughly 1,400 residents lost power, and the IID is continuing with repairs to the utility infrastructure in the wake of the storms.

Supervisor Manuel Perez, whose Fourth District encompasses the area, said 662 IID customers remained without electrical service for nearly five days after the adverse weather event.

“We mobilized as quickly as we could,” Perez said. “All these organizations stepped up, and it was something I had not seen before, not to this degree.”

EMD Director Bruce Barton said the county dispatched multiple agencies to the impact zone, including the Department of Housing, Homeless Prevention & Workforce Solutions, the Department of Animal Services and the Office on Aging.

“Our incident response team … was out there,” Barton told the board. “We facilitated housing resources as needed.”

Residents whose power had not been restored two days after the storm were issued hotel vouchers by IID to escape the triple-digit heat and remain safely sheltered.

Barton said that the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club and Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio were at the forefront of offering aid. The resort even made three concert venue spaces available for mass shelter, but most IID customers opted for the hotel vouchers instead.

He acknowledged that there were some delays in supplying services on Aug. 30 because of the Chaparral Fire near Murrieta, as well as a diesel fuel spill on Interstate 10 and obstructions on streets going into North Shore caused by the weather.

“We’ll go back and figure out how to do things even better next time,” Barton said.

On Sept. 8, the EMD director declared an emergency, but that declaration was due to expire this week, requiring the full board to support the local emergency with its own proclamation.

By submitting that to the California Office of Emergency Services, the IID will be eligible to receive disaster assistance grants to pay for repairs.

Perez requested that the county convene a community meeting in North Shore in the next two to three weeks, providing an opportunity for residents to ask officials questions and offer input on what they would like to see in the future.

“Government can’t do it all,” the supervisor said. “We’ll do what we can to the extent that we can. But some things are not going to be realistic.”

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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