As a powerful winter storm moves toward the Southland, concern about the homeless is increasing.
Rain is expected to start falling in the area Thursday night and continuing through Saturday morning, including unusually heavy rainfall on Friday as a result of the region’s most powerful storm so far this season.
Up to an inch of rain per hour is expected in some areas on Friday, with the approaching storm system tapping into a so-called atmospheric river, sucking up volumes of warm moisture, forecasters said. Early estimates are that the region will receive 2-6 inches of rain in coastal and valley areas and between 5 and 10 inches in the San Gabriel mountains and foothills, they said.
As a result of the powerful storm, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority winter shelters began offering extended hours Thursday evening.
According to the authority, many of its shelters opened at 5 p.m. and will continue operating for 62 hours, ending at 7 a.m. Sunday.
The extended hours will operate at shelters in Highland Park, Pomona, Santa Clarita, Skid Row, West Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, Sylmar, Long Beach and Bell.
The shelter in Lancaster will be open for 24 hours on Friday, but then have a delayed opening at 10 a.m. Saturday. Bassett Park in La Puente will operate as a temporary daytime shelter from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has been using social media as well as announcements from a helicopter to broadcast warnings to the homeless who live near the Santa Ana River bed, according to Orange County sheriff’s Lt. Mark Stichter.
The transients are being encouraged to move to the canyon area and elsewhere when the rain comes, he added.
Duarte city officials said the alert level for neighborhoods below the Fish Fire burn area would be raised to red beginning at 7 a.m. Friday, with mandatory evacuation orders taking effect for residents of 180 homes.
Volunteers were going door-to-door in affected neighborhoods Thursday afternoon, notifying residents about the evacuation orders, and telling them they can voluntarily leave their homes beginning Thursday night. An evacuation center will be set up at the City Hall Community Center, 1600 Huntington Drive.
The National Park Service announced Thursday it will be closing a series of parking lots in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
In the Malibu area, parking lots will be closed Friday at Solstice Canyon and the Zuma Canyon trailhead at Zuma/Trancas Canyons.
In the Agoura Hills area, lots will be closed Friday at Paramount Ranch, Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyon, Rocky Oaks and the overflow lot at Peter Strauss Ranch.
NPS officials said they would evaluate the condition of the lots throughout the day Saturday to determine if they can be reopened.
–City News Service and staff
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