Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pasadena Proud

Last week's wind storm was the kind of thing you can't prepare for--at least not in a specific way. The people who run a city's infrastructure can't sit down and say, "What are we going to do in the case of gale force winds that knock down hundreds of giant trees, downing power lines, blocking roads and damaging property?"

But they can plan for generalities--mass injuries, loss of power, or loss of communication, for example.

We've just seen how Pasadena responds to a major loss of power that could have been a disaster. Downed power lines were ready to ignite vulnerable homes and emergency vehicles couldn't get through roads blocked by toppled trees. Our city responded and kept responding and continues to respond.

Stories we hear from neighboring towns aren't as positive.

John and I called various Pasadena city services last Friday about tree removal, live wires and broken street lights. With the exception of one guy, who obviously didn't grok the magnitude of the situation ("Well, it's Friday, so you know, probly not 'til Monday...") we talked to knowledgeable, responsive people who either answered our questions or sought out the person who could.

Those persons haven't had much sleep since last Wednesday night. Now it's time for us to do our part.

First, we can bring our broken branches and tree debris to the curb per the instructions in this article from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Then we can be patient. Pasadena's got a Tournament of Roses to put on in just over three weeks. It's a big deal for our city. It's our annual triumph, our "hello" to the world, and this year it's as important as ever, if not more. Pasadena has done a fantastic job of cleaning up after a historic storm. I've still got a few items on my list of things for the city to do, but I can wait.

Update from Pasadena's Public Information Officer, Ann Erdman:
(this one came in at 6:30 pm)

NEWS FOR RELEASE:  December 7, 2011
MEDIA CONTACT: Ann Erdman, (626) 744-4755


Here is the latest update on recovery from the hurricane-force winds that devastated many parts of this community last Wednesday and Thursday.


Pasadena Water and Power crews made significant progress over the past 24 hours, replacing damaged power poles and transformers and coordinating with Public Works Department crews and some private tree services to remove downed trees from power lines and restring the lines.

An ongoing canvass of neighborhoods has identified many properties that need replacement of wires from nearby power poles.

As of this afternoon, approximately 75 customers are without electricity. Crews will work again through the night, handling calls already logged in and any additional calls as soon as possible.

“It’s important to keep this in perspective. We’re dealing with the equivalent of a hurricane-force event that impacted most of Pasadena’s 23 square miles with 325 miles of streets,” said City Manager Michael J. Beck. “The dramatic increase in restoration of power services over the past 48 hours is a further example of the unwavering commitment by city crews that have been working in 32-hour shifts with six-hour rest periods since this disaster began.”

The crews, assisted by workers on loan from Anaheim Public Utilities and Burbank Water and Power, continue to work around the clock, and in some cases are installing temporary fixes to get electricity restored to more homes more quickly. They will return to those properties to make permanent repairs once all service is restored.

Some customers who have power may experience intermittent outages while repairs are made to nearby properties. Please report outages to (626) 744-4673.

Green Debris Removal

A systematic east-to-west green debris removal process is now underway in Pasadena and is following existing solid waste collection routes the day after normal refuse collection dates.  Residents are asked to place their green debris out as soon as possible.  The deadline for getting rid of green recyclable waste by taking it to the curb will be on residents’ normal trash pickup day the week of Dec. 12.

To recycle all the green material and avoid contamination of the resulting mulch, please place only unbagged green material out for pickup. Other non-green debris resulting from the windstorm will be collected separately by scheduling a bulky-item pickup.

Private contractors providing green material removal service for residents may dispose of material at the Eaton Wash spreading disposal site at the northeast corner of Washington Boulevard and Sierra Madre Boulevard from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Only green material originating from Pasadena will be accepted at this site.  Contractors will be required to provide company name, address and client information. Contractors may also take green waste to the Scholl Canyon landfill at 7721 N. Figueroa St. in Los Angeles, where it will be used as alternative daily cover.

Absolutely no dumping is allowed at Rose Bowl Stadium and other parking lots.

Green storm debris drop-off locations are available to residents at Eaton Blanche Park, 3100 E. Del Mar Blvd., Robinson Park, 1081 N. Fair Oaks Ave.  Only Pasadena residents may use these drop-off locations.  The sites will be open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Dec. 7 through 16.  Green debris cannot be dumped on the ground and must be placed inside the large bins on site.

Proof of residency (i.e., utility bill or identification card) will be required to drop off material. No private contractors will be allowed to dispose of green materials at the park locations.

Damage Reporting

The City of Pasadena’s storm-related costs are expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars.  State and federal emergency management agencies could help mitigate storm-related costs to local governments, homeowners, and businesses, but only if they have accurate damage totals.

City and county officials are asking that homeowners and business owners report all their storm-related costs to the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) so local governments can more accurately demonstrate the need for state and federal disaster aid.

OEM is tallying estimates countywide and will forward the information to the state.

To report storm-related damage by phone dial 2-1-1.  Damage can also be reported online at

For more information about the city’s emergency declaration and storm-related cost estimates, contact Pasadena Emergency Management Coordinator Lisa Derderian at (626) 744-7276.

# # #

Ann Erdman
Public Information Officer
City of Pasadena
Public Affairs Office
100 N. Garfield Ave., Room S228
Pasadena CA  91109
(626) 744-4755
Cell: (626) 375-2742
Facebook:  Pasadena PIO
Twitter:  pasadenapio

(this one came in at 2:29 pm when I was out, sorry I didn't post it sooner)


While city and private crews work to reconnect the remaining customers still without electricity and clear thousands of tons of debris from streets and parks, local governments, including the city of Pasadena, are tallying the public costs of last week’s hurricane-force windstorm.  Pasadena’s costs will certainly run into the tens of millions of dollars.

State and federal emergency agencies could help mitigate those costs but only if they have accurate damage totals.  City and county officials are asking that homeowners and business owners report their storm-related costs as well so local governments can more accurately demonstrate the need for state and federal disaster aid.

“We need any damage and costs that residents and businesses incurred to be reported to the county, which will forward them to the state,” said Pasadena City Manager Michael J. Beck. “It’s crucial that the state and federal governments have an accurate sense of the true costs of this emergency to local governments and private property owners and businesses to follow up with disaster-relief funding.”

Beck urged residents to report their storm-related costs to the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management, which is tallying estimates countywide.

The office may be reached by dialing 2-1-1. Damage can also be reported online at

For more information about the city’s emergency declaration and storm-related cost estimates, contact Pasadena Emergency Management Coordinator Lisa Derderian at (626) 744-7276.


Book Dragon said...

I really want to say your photo was fake but besides knowing you wouldn't do that....I've SEEN sky that color!

The perfect sky, the broken tree, such a contrast.

I'm glad it wasn't as traumatic as it could have been for you.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Even tho this photo is evidence of destruction, it also shows the beauty of that tree... This past year I had 12 trees taken down because of what their future size would end up being.. I've saved parts of birch trunks because of their form and color... its sad what mother nature does- but this definitely is a sign.

alex said...

a great positive post. sometimes it's important to keep things in perspective. thanks Petrea.

Petrea Burchard said...

BD, around here (as you know) the color of the sky can depend on what direction you're looking. Up toward the mountains it's much bluer than out over the LA basin, for example. And after the winds it's been so clear.

Kalei, on private lots, sometimes the previous owners didn't think about that when they planted. This tree was out in the open at Hahamongna. Upon examination it looks like it was diseased. I had been told some of the eucalyptus out there had this problem and now I see it's true. But that red wood is beautiful.

Thanks, Alex. I don't know as everyone will agree, but friends in Temple City and some in South Pas and Altadena have been so ignored, I wanted to sing Pasadena's praises a bit.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

@Petrea: Where I live the homeowners entrust too much to the landscapers who are practically at your front door the minute you move into a new development... My landscaper talked me into planting 35 trees... sure they were small when they went in and in 7 years they were huge... I had roots that if I had not had removed would of killed my foundation, sprinkler system as well as the neighbors... Contractors here will plant trees 5 feet from each other if that much.. Some yards are so inundated its a nightmare... I think I maybe the only one who has gotten rid of trees. "less is more" is such a true adage..

Susan Campisi said...

If this weren't a photo blog, I would swear that was a painting. I was really impressed with how quickly Pasadena cleaned things up. Did you see the stop light at Claremont and Lake split in half? I wanted to take a photo but the next day it was gone.

Latino Heritage said...

Thanks for this most positive post. You are right about the Rose Parade. It brings in millions of tourist generated dollars.

At the council meeting this last Monday City Manager Beck read through about 35 pages of a report on the windstorm. Your readers can go to: for a too long for a blog description by the numbers.

John Sandel said...

"Everything that was created is bound to be destroyed."—L. da Vinci, in one of his notebooks

Petrea Burchard said...

Kalei, sounds like they're making their money!

I didn't see it, Susan--they blocked off the street from our end so we had to go around. Wow.

Thanks, Roberta. I've also been posting Ann Erdman's press releases in previous posts this week. Good statistics in there.

That daVinci. What a guy. How did he know everything?

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Your eyeballs would bug out permanently if i told you the prices that some have paid... highway robbery.. then again, homeowners need to do their homework to cover their butts.

Petrea Burchard said...

The City of Los Angeles has a wonderful tree program. If you take their two-hour class, they give you free trees to plant. The class includes a great book and all the information you need to plant trees. When J & I lived in LA we took this class and we still have the materials. It's a wonderful program and we've carried the learning forward with us.

dive said...

Who'd have thought plane trees are as beautiful inside as they are outside?
We'll be joining you in the clearing up soon; apparently we've got three days of 80mph winds coming.
Roll on spring.

Petrea Burchard said...

Oh dear, Dive. Batten down the hatches, this is serious stuff.

Bellis said...

Our eucalypts held up heroically, but the Mexican Ash split. Which always happens in nature (ash is self-pruning) but is not so good when cars and patio furniture is beneath. I was a bit dismayed to learn today that Pasadena wants us to get permits for some of the repair work to roofs and fences, and to remove trees. These permits cost money.
On the other hand, we got our electricity back in only 30 hours!

Petrea Burchard said...

Permits to repair damage from this storm? Really? That doesn't make any sense, they'll be snowed under with the paperwork and people will have to wait months. I guess the city needs to make some money.

Ms M said...

Very interesting photo; it does look like a painting. Good luck with all the clean-up!

Desiree said...

We prepared for it: I turned off the lights to listen. By day four no lights got kinda old. We were so prescient that even though two of our cars were blocked by a fallen tree, we had one car on the street unscathed. Happily we had plenty of candles stockpiled, and a gas oven to keep the home warm. All emergency alerts from kid's school and my canceled work failed, because they either called home (no power) or emailed. Ha!

pasadenapio said...

Thanks for helping me spread the word, Petrea! That photo looks like I feel.

Petrea Burchard said...

Ms. M, I was out and about today in Altadena, Pasadena and South Pasadena. Every street--I do not exaggerate--every street is lined with downed trees and branches. This will take months. We need your good luck wishes, so thank you!

Desiree, I think we'll be talking about this one for a long time. I do hope it's unique.

PIO, your valiant missives have been invaluable. In some cities they get NO information. We love you!
Now I believe you can get back to shorter days, can you not? Leave some of this trial by fire to your new staff.

J.J. in L.A. said...

I'm in Temple City and, thankfully, only 4 shingles fell off our roof. Less than a 1/4 mile away, a HUGE tree fell onto someone's roof and another tree was nothing but twisted wood.