Malibu Agencies Prepare for El Niño

Attendees received an Emergency Preparedness Starter Kit with a few safety essentials, including a bag, hard hat, gloves, whistle, lightstick and crowbar, at a workshop at Malibu City Hall.

Warm oceans and atmospheric climates are just the beginning of what scientists are predicting as an impending El Niño. 

Originally coined off the southern coast by anglers in South America in the 1600s, characteristics of an El Niño include warm Pacific Ocean waters, followed by heavy seasonal rain, according to the National Ocean Service.

While marine life is affected with environmental changes due to temperature increases in the water, activity above the sea is an entirely different story.

Are Malibu residents prepared for the impending El Niño? City of Malibu Emergency Services Coordinator Brad Davis, along with multiple local agencies, planning commissions and companies, is making sure residents have every resource to protect their assets, businesses and families. 

“We’re ready,” Davis said. “I can’t speak for the whole community — it’s impossible to gauge everyone’s level of preparedness. Even if some of the residents are not always ready, the city is ready.”

More than 20 residents attended a business continuity workshop at Malibu City Hall on Tuesday, in efforts to better prepare residents for emergency situations.

In addition to monitoring city emergency radios and alerts, Davis is head of a local group of volunteers, trained in the event of assisting during almost any disaster, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

“Malibu’s no stranger to flooding,” Davis said. “We often get severe weather. Every winter we have the flood threat. So I think people are prepared, they’ve been through floods before. They understand the concept of getting ready.”

Another vital asset to the community’s preparedness is the safety commission, which meets on the first Wednesday of the month at Malibu City Hall.

“At the Safety Commission meetings, we discuss things which are relevant to operations and communications for the city,” Safety Commissioner, Realtor and PCH Taskforce Member Meril May said. “We talk with the sheriffs and the fire department in anticipation of an event to try and deal with an event faster.”

Davis’ plan is to train the people of Malibu to be prepared in case of any emergency, including, and not limited to, heavy rainfall and potential flooding caused by El Niño.

“What we try to encourage people is to have your self sufficiency so that you have lighting, the ability to cook, power … ,” Davis said.

What else can residents do to prepare for an upcoming season of weather unlike this summer’s heatwave?

“Homeowners and landlords should contact their roofers now,” May said. “It’s like putting air in your car tires — you want to do it before you have a flat.”

“As a city, we have to work to make sure all the roads remain open and cleared,” Davis said. “Have supplies to look after yourself if we lose power for an extended period of time. If the power goes out and it goes out for a day or two — that might be a measurable inconvenience for you. And, educate yourself.”

A new seven-week round of CERT classes begins on Oct. 15, where citizens can learn how to respond during disasters.

“My biggest problem is that it doesn’t always happen to the other guy,” Davis said. “Sometimes you’re the other guy, and so you kind of need to do more than just hope. Hope is not a plan.”