Hurricane Hilary approaches California as Category 3 storm

Lifeguards fill sand bags for residents, while crews build a sand berm along the shore in Long Beach, California, on Friday, August 18. Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Los Angeles County is preparing for potential heavy rain and flooding from Hurricane Hilary, officials said during a Friday news conference.  

An emergency operations center with representatives from various Los Angeles County departments will open Sunday starting at 6 a.m. PT (9 a.m. ET) through Wednesday afternoon or as needed, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. The departments spent several days this week preparing for the storm and have rescue personnel ready for immediate response, he said. 

One of the biggest concerns is making sure the homeless community is safe, and the county is working on reaching out to people to get them temporary housing, especially for those who stay in parks or near waterways, Luna said. The sheriff’s department is mapping out where encampments are located and is making announcements by helicopter about the incoming storm, in addition to sending outreach teams on the ground, he said.

Officials are coordinating with Santa Catalina Island, which is part of Los Angeles County, and has evacuation routes planned, Luna said. 

“We hope that the storm does not cause any damage, and more importantly there is no loss of life,” Luna said during Friday’s news conference. “But we will prepare for a worst-case scenario, not only to assist people here in our county, but if we are not impacted or affected, we will become a resource to other neighboring counties as needed.”

The LA County Department of Public Works Chief Deputy Director Angela George-Moody said the department is very experienced, especially after a series of severe storms during the winter, and public infrastructure is ready to protect communities from flooding and catch as much rainwater as possible.

She added the Department of Public Works was not expecting any significant mud or debris slides based on the latest forecasts Friday, but that they will keep monitoring conditions. George-Moody encouraged residents to call 211 to report any downed trees or malfunctioning lights.

LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn said she was working with the Rolling Hills Estates, where homes were damaged after the ground shifted last month, and the fire department will be on site all weekend to make sure the area remains safe. 

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