Rep. Torres hosts El Nino preparedness event in Chino
CHINO >> The good news is the forthcoming El Nino is predicted to be one of the strongest on record, with storms expected to bolster mountain snowpacks, fill reservoirs and help alleviate the drought. The bad news is the cyclical weather pattern also brings the potential for flooding, mudslides, power outages and other disasters.
The latter was what prompted Rep. Norma J. Torres, D-Pomona, to host an El Nino Preparedness Seminar Saturday at the Chino Police Department, assembling guest speakers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and the Chino Valley Independent Fire District to provide tips to the public on how to prepare for an El Nino winter much stronger than the last one to hammer the region in 1997-1998.
“The bottom line is, El Nino is here. It’s record-breaking already. If it sustains itself, it will be the strongest on record,” said NOAA meteorologist Alex Tardy during Saturday’s event. “This is going to be a winter that really tests us because we have not seen all these ingredients lined up like this in the past,”
Other guest speakers included Veronica Verde, external affairs officer for FEMA’s Region IX, which includes California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Islands, Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Tim Shackelford, fire chief for the Chino Valley Independent Fire District.
Along with the safeguards of making sure you have enough food and water to last 30 days, batteries, a generator and other emergency supplies should disaster strike, another important thing was stressed Saturday: If you don’t have flood insurance, get it, especially if you live in a flood-prone area. And the time to get it is now to ensure coverage is in effect before the winter season, Verde said.
“The time to start preparing is now,” Verde said.
Guests were encouraged to visit the website floodsmart.gov, the official website of the National Flood Insurance Program, for information on flood insurance.
Chino Hills resident Kathy Gallagher attended Saturday’s seminar clad in her El Nino Halloween costume, consisting of a wide-brimmed hat crafted into a storm cloud, with tufts of cotton painted black and gray and golden paper lightning bolts hanging from the brim.
“We’re just trying to be prepared for what we can do. We’re sort of prepared for earthquakes, but what can we do to be better prepared for flooding?” Gallagher said. “We have a little creek in our backyard, so we’re a little worried about that, so we wanted to hear the best ways to prepare for what might be coming up.”
Regarding her costume, Gallagher said, “I thought I would try and bring some festivities to the event.”