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Mayor Villaraigosa Asks Residents To Stay Indoors, Brace For More Winds

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(credit: Stephen Boettcher/UGC/CBS)

(credit: Stephen Boettcher/UGC/CBS)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday it will take days to clean up after what he called a “once in a generation” wind event, and he urged residents to stay indoors and brace for another night of strong winds.

“I’m asking for your patience,” Villaraigosa said.

He urged residents to stay in their homes if possible and to drive cautiously if driving is unavoidable.

winds 11 Mayor Villaraigosa Asks Residents To Stay Indoors, Brace For More Winds

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The mayor said residents should call 9-1-1 if there is a downed power line or any other emergency, but he said the city’s 3-1-1 information line would remain on overnight to accept reports about downed trees or other public works problems.

Hours of forceful, sustained wind overnight winds, with some gusts reaching 100 mph in northeast Los Angeles, caused heavy damage across the city Wednesday and Thursday, including 25 structure fires.

The Los Angeles Fire Department received a total of 1,425 calls between midnight and early afternoon, putting the department on track to double the number of calls it receives on an average day.

Fire Chief Brian Cummings said he will deploy 21 additional fire companies, mostly to the San Fernando Valley where forecasters predict the winds will be at their strongest Thursday night.

Cummings said a red flag warning will remain in effect until at least 8 p.m. Friday.

Villaraigosa said the Santa Ana winds are a “very dynamic event that is still unfolding.”

Department of Water and Power General Manager Ron Nichols said Wednesday night’s winds killed power to more than 200,000 residences. The department deployed all of its crews and also pulled 20 crews from power generation stations in Utah and Arizona to assist with restoring power.

“This isn’t just a matter of a few limbs. This isn’t a matter of some palm fronds that we can quickly get out there and clear things,” Nichols said, adding that customers should expect response times that could reach upwards of 48 hours.

Deflecting criticism of the department’s handling of power restoration, Nichols said, “You couldn’t afford to design a system to sustain these types of events. Instead, we train our people to get out there fast, to get out there safely and bring it back up as quickly as possible.”

Winds are predicted to pick up again Thursday night.

Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency earlier Thursday, and several cities within the San Gabriel Valley declared local emergencies.

SCHOOL CLOSURES:

According to the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the
following school districts will be closed Friday due to the wind:

  • Alhambra Unified School District
  • Arcadia Unified School District
  • Azusa Unified School District
  • Baldwin Park Unified School District
  • Duarte Unified School District
  • Monrovia Unified School District

Pasadena Unified School District, which also has canceled all after
school program, events and sports-related activities at its campuses.

  • San Gabriel Unified School District
  • South Pasadena Unified School District
  • Temple City Unified School District

The La Canada Unified School District is expected to make a decision on its status at about 6:30 a.m. the San Marino Unified School District expects schools to be open Friday. A decision has not yet been made by the Glendora Unified School District.

» PHOTOS: Wild Wind Damage

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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