Tropical Storm Hilary: Hundreds of Lives Saved

LA Homeless Services Authority
The Road Home
Published in
3 min readOct 30, 2023

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With the cold and rain of Winter storms waiting ahead of us, now is a good time to look back at how the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority handled the last big rainstorm that hit Los Angeles: Tropical Storm Hilary.

As news warned about the coming of Tropical Storm Hilary in August, agencies across Los Angeles Ccity and cCounty acted quickly to ensure people experiencing homelessness were kept safe and protected from the elements.

LAHSA collaborated closely with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office and the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative to help people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in areas near dams and creeks move to safety before the storm.

Overall, LA’s rehousing system brought 374 individuals and 140 families inside to safety through emergency storm shelters and motel vouchers, including 85 people who reached safety from the Santa Fe Dam and other high-risk, flood-prone areas thanks to collaboration between LAHSA and the LA County Sheriff’s Homeless Outreach Services Teams (HOST).

There were no reported deaths due to Tropical Storm Hilary.

Evacuating high-risk areas

The rehousing system’s efforts began on Thursday, August 17, when LAHSA Homeless Engagement Teams teamed up with the Los Angeles Police Department and LA County Sheriff’s HOST to begin notifying people experiencing homelessness in high-risk flood areas about then-Hurricane Hilary and relocating them to safer locations. The areas of greatest concern included the San Gabriel River Watershed, Santa Fe Dam area, Sepulveda Basin, Los Angeles River, and Hansen Dam.

The outreach teams also began coordinated outreach and evacuation of people encamped within the flood control areas throughout the San Gabriel River Watershed, following the winter storm protocols they have used for the past 5+ years.

Emergency shelters established

In addition to its outreach efforts, LAHSA partnered with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, the Department of Recreation and Parks, and nonprofits Hope of the Mission, First to Serve, HOPICS, Abundant Blessings, Urban Alchemy, and Mental Health America Los Angeles to utilize eight recreation and community centers as emergency shelters for the weekend. LAHSA also worked with staff at Los Angeles County to open shelters in Pamela Park in Duarte and Jackie Robinson Park in the Antelope Valley.

LAHSA coordinated the delivery of cots, water, blankets, and towels to all shelter sites throughout the weekend and provided additional staff support as necessary to ensure people experiencing unsheltered homelessness had a safe place to stay.

In total, the rehousing system stood up 622 emergency beds at park and recreation locations for use during the storm, and 312 people utilized those beds.

The rain arrives

On Saturday, LA County approved LAHSA’s request to activate the Augmented Winter Shelter Program in the Antelope Valley, San Gabriel Valley, West Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, and the South Bay/Harbor area, offering hundreds of hotel rooms to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. These additional vouchers buttressed the motel vouchers offered through 211.

Over the weekend, 211 issued 140 motel vouchers to families and 62 to individuals.

As these emergency shelter measures wound down, LAHSA and its partners worked to help people who came in to escape the storm remain inside. LAHSA offered everyone in a temporary storm shelter a shelter bed in LAHSA’s interim housing system.

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