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Inyo County Storm Damage Being Assessed, Flooding Continues

Screen Shot 2023 06 21 at 6.02.00 PM

DAMAGE BEING ASSESSED, FLOODING CONTINUES 

Inyo County, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and allied agencies continue to take stock of  the widespread damage caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Hilary moving through the region Sunday  and Monday.

Inyo County Administrator Nate Greenberg declared a local emergency on Monday, while agencies’ personnel continue to work countywide to actively survey and evaluate the damage and respond to  emerging threats from ongoing flooding.

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Whitney Portal Rd. – Tuesday

High waters from Lone Pine Creek flooded Whitney Portal Road earlier in the day today and necessitated an  Evacuation Order from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office for the area on the north side of Whitney Portal Road,  west of Horseshoe Meadows Road. Inyo County Health & Human Services opened an Evacuation Center at  its Lone Pine offices, 310 N. Jackson St. Six structures – all unoccupied – were threatened. Lubken Canyon  Road is being used as a detour for Whitney Portal, which was heavily damaged on top of impacts received  during the spring and summer runoff.

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Oak Creek – Monday

An earlier Evacuation Order was issued when Oak Creek outside of Independence also overran its banks,  flooding U.S. 395. The highway has been reduced to a single lane while maintenance crews work to clear the  path.

Both orders remain in effect. An Evacuation Order is a lawful order to leave now, issued due to the immediate  threat to life. The area under order is lawfully closed to public access. By contrast, an Evacuation Warning is  issued in response to potential threat to life/property and gives advance warning to those who may need  extra time to prepare for evacuation.

Local waters – already swollen with unprecedented amounts of runoff – were inundated Sunday and Monday  by record amounts of rainfall over a period of less than 12 hours, resulting in extreme flooding and mud flow  into creeks, canals, and the Los Angeles Aqueduct (LAA). The high flows in creeks destroyed or damaged  most of LADWP diversion and flow measurement structures between the towns of Big Pine and Olancha.  Five state highways and more than two dozen county roads sustained significant damage in the storm and  remain closed, including State Route 190 in Death Valley National Park. The park itself remains closed.

Damage to S.R. 190 is extensive. State Route 136 is also closed in both directions as a result of water crossing  the highway. Motorists are urged not to attempt driving on these roads. Residents in the communities of  Keeler, Darwin, and Panamint Valley who need assistance – or any individuals impacted by flooding – may call the non-emergency 2-1-1 phone line.

Caltrans maintenance crews are actively working to reopen the highways in both Inyo and Kern counties.  Updates on all Caltrans’ road closures are being posted to its social media platforms. County Road crews are  likewise busy assessing damage and working to reopen various routes. Updates can be found on the Inyo  County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

LADWP is utilizing all of its resources, including the request from Los Angeles to support its Operations in  Inyo County to help excavate and bail out sand and sediment buildup in the LAA and surrounding waterways.  The main work area is the Lone Pine sand trap, where crews are attempting to keep up with sand and debris  flow and retain LAA operation. Added resources and equipment have been mobilized. The biggest issue  crews are facing is that the creek and sediment are currently too high, making it hard to catch up with  sand/debris flow.

Jurisdictions to the north of Inyo County appear to have fared better. “The Town of Mammoth Lakes and  Police Department experienced heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Hilary but fortunately, had no major  incidents,” a Town spokesperson said. “On Sunday afternoon, a large boulder slid down on to John Muir  Road. Crews were able to move it before it caused any traffic collisions. Several visitors were delayed in their  closures and to stay away from the river and creeks. Banks have been overrun with water and there is a large  departure or took alternate routes due to the closure of Highway 395 on Monday. The Town extends our  wishes to our neighboring counties who experienced far more disruption.”

The story was similar for the County of Mono. “While the county was fully prepared, the impacts of Tropical  Storm Hilary were minimal in Mono County. We have received no reports of flooding or damage to local  roads or highways. We are grateful for the pre-positioning of resources and equipment throughout the  county from the Mono County Fire Districts, and appreciate the MWTC Fire Department for having their  swift water rescue team available,” a spokesperson said.

LADWP, the Sheriff’s Office, and Inyo County Office of Emergency Services urge the public to obey all road  closures and to stay away from the Owens and River and local creeks. Banks have been overrun with water  and there is a large amount of mud and debris in many areas.

RESOURCES 

Sandbags are still available at Inyo County fire stations (Sandbag Locations – March 9 2023.pdf  (dropbox.com)).

Road closure updates as well as links to key resources can be found at the Office of Emergency Service’s website,  https://ready.inyocounty.us.

Current weather updates can be found at: https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php… 

Individuals who do not have access to the internet and ability to use the Ready Inyo website are encouraged to  call 2-1-1. This non-emergency phone service will provide information similar to what is maintained on the  Ready Inyo website, as well as the ability to access other County resources via phone. Anyone seeking more  information about the storm and storm response is urged to call this number – NOT 9-1-1, which is intended for  life safety issues only.

Residents not currently signed up for CodeRED may do so at any time. It is the number one mechanism for  informing residents during a local emergency or disaster. CodeRED is an opt-in, high-speed notification solution  that quickly delivers emergency messages to targeted areas or the entire county. Because the notifications are  geographically based, a street address is required to ensure emergency notification calls are received by the  proper individuals in a given situation. If your cell phone number has changed, or you have moved, or if you are  new to the area please register at: https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/DAD807D480BF.

IPAWS is FEMA’s national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency and life-saving  information to the public through mobile phones using Wireless Emergency Alerts, to radio and television via  the Emergency Alert System, and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Radio.

You will receive a CodeRED/IPAWS if the Sheriff’s Office determines that there is an imminent threat to life or  safety. You will not receive a notification for non-emergent issues.

For the latest information on Caltrans road closures and other highway conditions, download the Quickmap  app to your iOS or Android device or visit quickmap.dot.ca.gov. You can also call the Road Condition Hotline  at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).

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