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FEMA Reviews Plan For Disaster Response To El Niño

A 600 foot-long sinkhole stretches across Balboa Avenue and adjacent side streets after a large underground storm drain burst causing soil to wash away during a severe El Nino storm, Feb. 24, 1998 in San Diego.
Associated Press
A 600 foot-long sinkhole stretches across Balboa Avenue and adjacent side streets after a large underground storm drain burst causing soil to wash away during a severe El Nino storm, Feb. 24, 1998 in San Diego.

FEMA Reviews Plan For Disaster Response To El Niño
The warming of the Pacific Ocean could bring storms triggering flooding, evacuations, power outages and landslides.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is releasing its disaster plan on how it will respond to El Niño weather conditions in the Southwest and West Coast this winter.

The warming of the Pacific Ocean could bring storms triggering flooding, evacuations, power outages and landslides.

Bob Fenton, FEMA's Region IX administrator, said a lot of the federal agency's preparation involves being ready to help state and local governments.

"Ulitmately, as events unfold and impacts are felt, our resources are above and beyond what the first responders and local governments, private sector, state agencies are responding with, whether they need additional assistance from the federal government," Genton said.

The disaster plan focuses heavily on California. Land scorched by wildfire is susceptible to flooding and landslides. Coastal areas could see higher tides of up to 8 feet around Christmas.

Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services, said the federal government stands ready to help and local agencies are also preparing.

"We have been working very much with our counties in the different parts of the state," he said. "We are doing conference calls and planning scenarios with regards to making sure emergency operations plans and hazard mitigation plans are up to date and current."

FEMA is looking to recruit 500 people in the region who it can call on to respond quickly to disasters.

In Arizona, flash flooding and rapid snow melt are a concern. The impact to Nevada will depend on how much rain and snow falls on the east side of the Sierra Nevada.