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Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Political Blowback on a Northeast Windstorm

Twitter message from Councilman Huizar, share your frustration-NELA suffered most damage-believe me I am pushing dprts. to get service up as quickly as possible-
Twitter message from "DJJesC" to Councilman Huizar on Dec. 2, "heard there's been service restored to some areas of El Sereno-include u?
Blogger notes: If you thought the wind storm event of December 1, 2011 was a historic event and it was, the brewing political blowback will surely have a place in the Northeast Los Angeles historical archives. Northeast Los Angeles blogger Tony Butka who resides in wind-ravage Glassell Park, has emerge from the darkness to post this scree on the lack of a disaster plan to deal with this type of natural event and as you can read in Council man Jose Huizar's twits , there is a need for better communicating the city's response to this type of event. We post Butka's post in whole after the jump---Scott Johnson in CD 14. 
 Wednesday evening, the residents of Northeast LA, including Pasadena & South Pasadena, were hammered with gale force winds.  Debris and uprooted trees made the area look like something out of The Wizard of Oz tornado scene with Dorothy & Toto headed to ….  Downed power lines & busted water mains, in addition to the rain of anything loose and pieces of old roofs, completed the carnage.
Waking up the next morning was like being in the aftermath of a major disaster — eerie silence, no electricity, debris everywhere, and a sense of total isolation.  No television/cable/Direct TV, and oh my god no internet!  About then, we started worrying (way after the fact) about how much charge we had on our cell phones, since no electricity means no charging of portable computers, iPhones, etc etc.
And this being LA, not much neighbor to neighbor communication.  Most folks were out trying to brave to roads to get to work/school whatever, and it was a while before some of the rest of us stumbled out from our homes to ask did anyone else have power and what the heck is going on?
Personally, I think this was exacerbated by the intentional design of the new code for smoke detectors.  The electricity may have gone out, but these devices from hell kept going off in our house every 15 minutes all night long.  I even disconected them and they still went off!  I was thinking very unkind things about the Fire Department and government regulation as I repeatedly leapt up from a freezing bed.  And oh yes — no electricity means no thermostat so no heat, even though there was gas.  Uggh!
And where was the Mayor, the City Council, the Police Chief, the Fire Chief, and the Department of Water & Power brass?
Yeah, where were these seriously expensive leaders?  I mean usually you can’t turn on the TV or radio without being bombarded with their bombast.  Occupy LA?  You bet.  Foreign policy initiatives by the City Council?  Of course.  Heck, if you can find a group of more than 15 angelenos anywhere in the City you have to beat back the elected officials with a stick as they hover for a photo op!
Well not Thursday morning.  This was different.  This required leadership, someone taking charge, stepping up, doing something.  Actually fixing things.  Be a grown up.  So where were our leaders?  Nowhere to be found.
Personally I adhere to the theory that they all vanished in a puff of smoke, just like the magic trick, but some of my other friends prefer the theory that they disappeared in a cloud of dust as they beat feet away from responsibility.
On the not so funny front, where the heck was the disaster plan?  Remember, over 350,000 angelenos were left with no electricity, ravaged streets and homes. So where was the emergency broadcast information?  Where was the hot line?  Where were the emergency shelters for folks like some of my over 70yr old neighbors?
I also discovered the joy of being a part of the underclass.  If you rely on radio for news, there basically isn’t any anymore.  There is a ton of talk radio blathering to their niche markets, but KFWB is gone from news all the time, 1070 is intermittent, ditto for 640 etc etc etc.  And no emergency broadcast alert for folks in the disaster area.  Goodness not.
Same for television.  Outside of the occasional ‘oh my this is really bad for Northeast LA and Pasadena’, TV ignored the event until the next day when they could get some pretty pictures of the natives.  Again no real news or help, and no elected officials.  I know this because I went out and got a battery operated TV, figuring that if radio was useless maybe TV would be more useful.  Save your money.
So how did our infrastructure let us know about the disaster and what to do?  Well,  they sent out email blasts!  Yes, you got it, they sent out not very helpful emails to folks who mostly did not have any access to email since they had no electricity and no internet access.  What a masterstroke of communications skill!
Try to use 311 to find out information and you were in an Alice in Wonderland of 15 minute wait times to only be transferred to another wait time.  Call Jose Huizar?  Not open until 9am, thanks.  And after 9am the hold and wait game.
Your thought ................
Scott Johnson in CD 14

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