(Los Angeles, May 16, 2015) The Red Cross Los Angeles Region provided overnight shelter for 78 Hollywood residents on Saturday, May 9, after a utility crew struck a natural gas line, prompting the evacuation of 100 residents and business owners. The crew was working to install a water sampler near the intersection of Cahuenga and Yucca streets as part of a water quality project.
Red Cross disaster responders Gordon Hill and Anita Long setup and delivered canteen services for first responders and residents after the 11:30am gas line puncture, deployed by Disaster Duty Officer Jimmy Dower. But the need for an evacuation center for displaced residents late on Saturday afternoon then transitioned into a shelter after Southern California Gas Co. crews, working to control the leak, needed more time.
Staffing Leads Chun Chan and Mary Hughes reached out to volunteers by phone, email and text messages to bring together teams to support our enhanced response needs. As day turned into night, evacuees from the four large residential buildings in the impacted area arrived at the Poinsettia Recreation Center via public transport buses, courtesy of the MTA, coordinated by the LA City Dept. of Emergency Management and the LA City Recreation and Parks Depts.
The Poinsettia Recreation Center, at 7341 Willoughby Ave. was chosen, in discussion with the Incident Commander, Red Cross, LA City Recreation and Parks and Emergency Management Depts. Public Information representative Carmela Burke worked to support media requests by phone while Communications staff member Carlos Rodriguez, and volunteer Public Affairs Officer Ricardo Alterno assisted at the shelter. Government Liaison Michael Abramson provided situational awareness to Red Cross leadership at the Incident Command Post.
Red Cross workers, led by Shelter Manager Yiwei Chen, working with Martin Martinez, Kenneth Jones, Million Tesfaye, Alex Yip, quickly met the evacuees, got them registered into the shelter, provided them with hot, fresh pizza, snacks, bottled water and comfort kits, containing hygiene items, before evacuees settled in on cots with blankets for the night. Red Cross also provided diapers and other vital supplies for families.
The operational leadership for this incident transferred over to Disaster Program Manager Jeanne Woo, who worked with Mass Care Lead John Luong and Regional Logistics Specialist Tyler Hastings to ensure material resources needed by the team in the field had their needs met. The Logistics Team delivered a 100-person shelter trailer to the center to support the shelter operation. That team of Steve Elstein, Delight Miller and Barbara Colwell worked into the early hours of Sunday morning to support the shelter residents.
Shelter Manager Norm Fajardo came on duty at 6am, with Sam Yu and Amy Chiou to support the shelter resident, in relief of the overnight staff. Government Liaison Benjamin Rappaport provided vital information gathering and sharing at the Incident Command Post, keeping the Red Cross and the first responders informed with timely communications.
Red Cross provided breakfast to shelter residents as they woke up to the news that the gas was finally shut off at 4:30 am and they would be allowed back into their homes. Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters checked each housing unit before accompanying residents back into their buildings just after 8 a.m.
Many thanks to our stellar crew of volunteers and employees who participated in this effort, giving comfort and aid to those who needed it.