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Los Angeles Homeless Fill Emergency Shelter Sites to Escape Brutal Storm

Los Angeles Homeless Fill Emergency Shelter Sites to Escape Brutal Storm

A person walks with carts in the rain near an encampment of unhoused people in Skid Row as a powerful long-duration atmospheric river storm, the second in less than a week, continues to impact Southern California in Los Angeles on Feb. 6, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

2/6/2024

Updated: 2/7/2024

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All of Los Angeles’s emergency shelter beds for the homeless population were filled Feb. 6 after the city made them available to help people get off the streets during this week’s storm.
The city activated its winter shelter program to help its 46,000 homeless people stay safe, according to Mayor Karen Bass.
“What I learned is that Los Angeles can handle very big challenges, and if we stick together, we will come out so far ahead,” Ms. Bass said at a news conference.
People gather near an encampment of homeless people in Skid Row as a powerful long-duration atmospheric river storm, the second in less than a week, continues to impact Southern California in Los Angeles on Feb. 6, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

People gather near an encampment of homeless people in Skid Row as a powerful long-duration atmospheric river storm, the second in less than a week, continues to impact Southern California in Los Angeles on Feb. 6, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

One of the city’s tiny-home villages occupied by formerly homeless people flooded Monday and 100 residents had to be relocated, according to the mayor.
The mayor said she reached out to President Joe Biden on Feb. 5 to update him about the storm and asked for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). She planned to call President Biden again Feb. 6 to ask for housing vouchers, she said.
Leading up to the storm, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority opened an emergency winter shelter program to add beds across the county.
“The Los Angeles region has been cold recently, but the addition of rain this weekend could make conditions especially dangerous for anyone living on the streets, program director Va Lecia Adams Kellum said in a statement last week.
The city offered shelter at two senior centers, the South Los Angeles Sports Activity Center, and the Oakwood Recreation Center. Also, shower sites were opened for homeless people at four public pools: the Richard Alatorre, Algin Sutton, Sepulveda, and Westchester.
The winter shelter program is usually activated during cold or wet conditions, increasing shelter space by issuing motel and hotel vouchers, and providing fixed sites throughout the city.
In Los Angeles County, hotel and motel vouchers were offered in Antelope Valley, Santa Clarita, Burbank, Glendale, San Gabriel Valley, west, south, and east Los Angeles, and the South Bay and harbor areas. In the city, six locations were served in the San Fernando Valley, the downtown metropolitan area, west and south Los Angeles, and the South Bay.
The city’s augmented winter shelter program was expected to run through Feb. 6, according to the Homeless Services Authority. Last year, the program served about 5,400 people, which was a 652-percent increase over the 2021–2022 winter season.
The agency worked with Los Angeles County to open six more sites at Pamela Park and Enterprise Park.
The shelters accepted pets and served three meals a day.
Large surf hits the beaches of Los Angeles on Feb. 6, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Large surf hits the beaches of Los Angeles on Feb. 6, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

In San Diego, city officials opened four locations for the homeless to find shelter, including the Living Water Church of the Nazarene, San Diego Rescue Mission, and two other locations. The shelter bed program, which usually operates during the winter, was activated.
In San Jose, officials ordered homeless people living along the Guadalupe River to evacuate before the storm started Feb. 3. The city set up shuttle rides to a community center and opened an additional shelter at another community center.
A limited number of shelter beds were also opened for the estimated 7,750 homeless people in San Francisco Feb. 3. According to the city, nearly 3,400 were already staying in a shelter.
Despite the additional beds, homeless people were seen hunkered down in tents and on sidewalks as the storm arrived, according to KTVU News.
In Sacramento, a 73-year-old homeless woman was trapped in her tent Feb. 4 as wind gusts reaching 70 miles per hour caused trees to fall around her camp, according to a news report. She was rescued by workers from a homeless organization who cut the tent, she told The Sacramento Bee.
The county opened a warming center during the storm and added 35 beds at one emergency center. The city also activated its weather operations to accommodate up to 50 more homeless people and their pets.

Record Rainfall

The storm brought downtown Los Angeles its third-highest rainfall for two consecutive days since records began in 1877.
Downtown Los Angeles received nearly 7 inches of rain Monday night, about half the yearly average of 14.25 inches, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
Los Angeles-area residents were encouraged to not let their guards down, NWS meteorologist Ariel Cohen, who is in charge of the Los Angeles bureau, said during the Monday press conference.
The rain was expected to taper off by the end of Feb. 6 but waves of heavier downpour could reach the region during the day, he said.
Heavy rainfall causes mudslides in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Feb. 6, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Heavy rainfall causes mudslides in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Feb. 6, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“The soils are super saturated with 6–12 inches of rain across the region,” Mr. Cohen said. “It’s not able to hold any additional water before sliding. It’s not going to take much rain for additional landslides, mudslides, rockslides, and other debris flows to occur.”
The Los Angeles region was expected to get more showers Wednesday and Thursday but dry out by the end of the week, according to the weather service.
In Orange County, the Santa Ana River was receiving about 10,000 cubic feet per second, triggering flash-flood warnings, according to Reed Timmer, a meteorologist with AccuWeather. Waterspout potential increased near Oceanside by the afternoon, he said.

Rain Rescues

By Feb. 6, at least three deaths in Central and Northern California were blamed on falling trees during the storm.
Several people were rescued in rising waters.
Los Angeles city firefighters rescued a man Feb. 5 who jumped into the Los Angeles River trying to save his dog. A video shows a rescuer lowering himself from a helicopter and dropping into the raging water to grab the man and pull him to safety.
Crews set up at several bridges and access areas to find the dog, which had managed to swim to safety.
Water rages past a cart filled with items used by homeless people living along the Los Angeles River as the second and more powerful of two atmospheric river storms inundates Los Angeles bringing record rainfall and flooding, on Feb. 5, 2024. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Water rages past a cart filled with items used by homeless people living along the Los Angeles River as the second and more powerful of two atmospheric river storms inundates Los Angeles bringing record rainfall and flooding, on Feb. 5, 2024. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

During the storm, Los Angeles city workers responded to 257 fallen trees and branches, and 159 pothole reports. They also cleared 875 catch basins and stormwater systems.
Fire crews received reports of 307 mudslides and 35 buildings affected by mudslides and debris. Five buildings were red-tagged, meaning residents were not allowed to enter them, and seven were yellow-tagged, allowing residents to enter and collect their possessions, according to Los Angeles Fire Chief Kristin Crowley.
The La Tuna Canyon area remained under an evacuation order Feb. 6 because of mudslide and flooding risk along burn scars from a 2022 fire.
Heavy rainfall causes mudslides in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Feb. 6, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Heavy rainfall causes mudslides in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Feb. 6, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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