A winter storm walloped San Marino and the rest of Los Angeles County this week, but the city escaped largely undamaged due in part to mitigation efforts put in place early on by local officials and police and fire departments.
Nearby flooding and mudflows in the La Habra Heights, Hacienda Heights and La Mirada areas inundated several streets and potentially damaged some homes there. The National Weather Service had issued a flash flood warning in that area.
But despite some flooding in the area of Sierra Madre Boulevard and Euston Road, San Marino made it through the storm largely unscathed, with the exception of a residential fire at 1880 Lorain Road on Monday morning.
“Firefighters braved heat, heavy smoke conditions, and contained the fire to the original unit and extinguished the fire in 20 minutes,” City Manager Philippe Eskandar told the Tribune.
The San Marino Fire Department firefighters were assisted by units from South Pasadena, San Gabriel, Pasadena and Alhambra fire departments.
No power outages and no major incidents relating to the storm were reported.
Ahead of the forecasted inclement weather, the city of San Marino’s Parks and Public Works crews began inspecting all catch basins, storm drains, debris gates and other facilities.
“Last week’s smaller storm on Thursday acted as a bit of a ‘pre-wash’ of the city and allowed us to watch how things were flowing, see if anything was behaving unexpectedly, and respond accordingly,” said Eskandar. “With the small window of better weather between the two storms, we took the time to reset, clean things out again and adjust the response as needed.”
Throughout last week and over the weekend, Fire Chief Mario Rueda and Eskandar held daily briefings with the National Weather Service to follow the development of the storms to ensure staffing was ready to bring the “best information” to the community.
“We wanted to make sure we got the message of the severity of the storm out and used our Instagram, Nixle and website to let the community know about things like the availability of sandbags, the temporary closure of Lacy Park, etc.,” Eskandar said.
At 2 p.m. on Sunday, Eskandar, the fire, police, and Parks and Public Works departments held an internal briefing at City Hall for crews to review the capabilities and assignments, including communications protocols and other information.
“We proactively deployed additional personnel across these departments, which worked nonstop throughout the night into Monday and staffed up additional Public Works vehicles so that we were in town and ready for whatever came our way,” Eskandar said. “This proactive approach results in an elevated service level that is hard to match elsewhere and a direct result of the community’s support for public safety through the public safety parcel tax revenue. We were able to respond to downed tree limbs, storm drain floods, etc., much more quickly and proactively than if we were to have staff responding while on standby at their homes like many other cities operate.”
Eskandar emphasized that the City Council’s focus on public safety and having a well-maintained infrastructure has paid off over time.
Another concern, he noted, were residents who have basements that have seen occasional flooding during major storms.
“In light of that, we prepared our trucks with additional sump pumps to help residents as needed,” Eskandar said. “Thankfully, the needs were only at our storm drains and not in peoples’ homes during this storm.”
— City News Service contributed to this report.
First published in the Feb. 8 issue of the San Marino Tribune