Wildfire and Emergency News

CHIEF’S CORNER: WIND SAFETY

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
 
More Than Just Dust in the Wind!
 
May 19, 2024 (San Diego) -- From the desert to the sea, many communities are seeing wind gusts that are causing problems and concern. Fire danger is not the only hazard we have to concern ourselves with during high winds. Strong winds can cause considerable damage on their own, even without fires. Please follow the below safety tips:

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION HEARING ON CALIFORNIA’S HOME INSURANCE CHALLENGES HIGHLIGHTS THE NEED TO REDUCE WILDFIRE THREATS BY ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE

East County News Service
 
Photo: The Little Hoover Commission, formally known as the Milton Marks “Little Hoover” Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy, is an independent state oversight agency created in 1962.
 
May 17, 2024 (Sacramento) -- In a stark warning at a Little Hoover Commission hearing on California’s homeowners insurance market, former California Insurance Commissioner and Director of UC Berkeley’s Climate Risk Initiative Dave Jones voiced concerns over the future availability of homeowners insurance in California’s fire-prone regions.

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FIRE AT OTAY BATTERY STORAGE FACILITY PROMPTS EVACUATION WARNINGS, SHELTER-IN-PLACE ORDER FOR DONOVAN PRISON

Update 9:30 p.m. --The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has issued an Evacuation Order. An Evacuation Order requires immediate movement out of the affected area due to an imminent threat to life. All persons in the impacted area should prepare to evacuate. Evacuation Order means there is extreme danger in your area.  You must leave now; do not wait. Contact your neighbors and share information.

By Miriam Raftery

May 17, 2024 (Otay Mesa) – The #CaminoFire at Gateway Energy Storage, a lithium battery storage facility  in Otay Mesa, flared up overnight and prompted county officials to issue an evacuation warning for businesses in the surrounding area due to the potential for release of toxic gasses.

The fire has also resulted in a shelter-in-place order for nearby Donovan State Prison. A road closure is in effect at Camino de la Fuente and Paseo de la Fuente.

According to Cal Fire’s incident update this morning, firefighters continue to battle the  thermal runaway fire involving lithium ion batteries.

The harmful gasses are “making access an issue for firefighters,” Cal Fire advises.”The building’s sprinkler system is currently being supplemented with the use of the existing standpipe system and the fire is still contained to the building of origin."


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HOUSE LOST IN BRUSH FIRE NEAR LOVELAND RESERVOIR

Update May 14, 2024:  This fire has been extinguished after charring 18 acres and destroying the home where it started.

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

May 13, 2024 (Alpine)-- Cal Fire is responding to a brush fire, #Love21C, south of Loveland Reservoir in Alpine. The fire has burned 15 acres and is spreading at a moderate rate of speed, with potential for 100 acres, according to Cal Fire.  

The fire  started at  1900 Sloane Canyon Rd. and Loveland Reservoir and is zero percent contained, per the Watch Duty Ap.


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CPUC PROPOSES REJECTING AT&T’S REQUEST TO WITHDRAW AS CARRIER OF LAST RESORT AND END LAND LINES, ALSO PLANS RULEMAKING PROCESS

“AT&T failed to demonstrate the availability of replacement providers...Additionally, public commenters at CPUC public forums highlighted the unreliability of voice alternatives such as mobile wireless or VOIP.” –CPUC

May 10, 2024 (Sacramento) – After hearing from consumers across the state and reviewing evidence in the record, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today issued a proposal rejecting AT&T’s request to withdraw as a carrier of last resort (COLR), which would have ended land line service across San Diego County and other areas. The CPUC also indicated that it intends to initiate a new Rulemaking process to address COLR telecommunications service obligations.

The proposal will be on the CPUC’s June 20 Voting Meeting agenda.

AT&T's plan to pull the plug on land line phone service has drawn strong opposition from rural residents in East County and elsewhere in California, as ECM reported in February, as well as from consumer advocates who warn that ending land lines would leave many in rural or remote locations with no reliable phone service at all, since Internet VOIP phone service is not widely available in many places and some areas also lack cell phone connectivity. Even for those with cell service, land lines have proven life-saving options when cell towers have burned down during wildfires in places such as rural Potrero.


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ARE YOU READY FOR WILDFIRES?

East County News Service

May 9, 2024 (San Diego) – Governor Gavin Newsom has declared May 5-11 as “Wildfire Preparedness Week.”  Noting the increasingly challenging wildfire seasons due to climate change, Newsom says his administration has made historic investments to increase forest management and decrease catastrophic wildfire risks, such as buying state-of-the-art firefighting equipment and technology.

Now he’s asking all Californians to take steps to protect their properties by creating defensible space around homes, hardening homes, developing wildfire action plans and teaming up to join Fire Safe Councils and Firewise Communities, which work to regularly assess wildfire risk and prioritize actions to address those risks.

“All of us have an essential role in protecting ourselves, loved ones, and communities from wildfire,” the Governor says. “During Wildfire Preparedness Week, I encourage all Californians to visit ReadyForWildfire.org to learn about steps we can take to prepare for wildfire season and help prevent loss of life and property. Together, we can create a more fire resilient California.”  Find tips at https://readyforwildfire.org/.

To stay ready for a wildfire or natural disaster at any time, the California Fire Foundation has just relaunched its Firefighters on Your Side community preparedness program at FirefightersOnYourSide.org to help Californians prepare their homes with defensible space, make a 5-minute evacuation planpre-pack essentials, and print a master checklist. . 


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E. COLI CASES LINKED TO ORGANIC WALNUTS

East County News Service

May 4, 2024 (San Diego) – A dozen people have become ill, including seven who were hospitalized, with E. coli infections linked to Gibson Farms organic walnut halves and pieces. The walnuts, which have been recalled, were sold in bulk bins at natural food stores and coops, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, though some of the walnuts may have been packaged in bags or clamshell packaging.

The walnuts were distributed in many states, but the illnesses to date occurred in California and Washington. 


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SHIRTLESS FIREFIGHTERS TO SIGN CALENDARS AT DEANO’S PUB MAY 2 TO BENEFIT PROTECT SANTEE BALLOT MEASURE

MAY 1, 2024 (Santee) --“There’s not much we won’t do to protect our family, friends, and neighbors in Santee,” Santee firefighters say in a social media post promoting the launch of a new calendar to support the Protect Santee ballot measure.

People who like shirtless firefighters are invited to join the calendar launch party at Deano’s Pub East in Santee (11541 Woodside Ave., Suite D) on Thursday, May 2 from 6 – 9 p.m.. In addition to some good food and cold beer, attendees can get a calendar and an autograph from Santee’s homegrown hotshots.

But there’s a catch.

As the last days of the Protect Santee signature gathering come to a close, Santee residents will be asked if they can put their autographs on a petition of their own.


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11 NOROVIRUS CASES IN SAN DIEGO LINKED TO FROZEN KOREAN OYSTERS

County health officials have linked 11 confirmed and probable cases of norovirus illness to frozen oysters imported from South Korea. 
 
By Cassie N. Saunders, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
April 18, 2024 (San Diego) -- Customers who ate the oysters at 100s Seafood Grill Buffet in Mission Valley on March 30th became sick, a couple days later one person went to the emergency department.  
 

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$378,000 IN GRANTS AWARDED TO 13 FIRE SAFE COUNCILS IN SAN DIEGO RIVER WATERSHED

Alpine Fire Protection District invites public to event April 4

Source:  San Diego Regional Fire Foundation

Photo, left: Alpine Fire Protection District's new wood chipper

April 3, 2024 (San Diego) – The San Diego Regional Fire Foundation and the San Diego River Conservancy are pleased to announce $378,958 in funding for 13 Fire Safe Councils in the Conservancy’s watershed area and a new chipper for the Alpine Fire Protection District. 

Alpine Fire Station will host an event April 4 from 11:30 to 1 p.m.  Alpine Fire Protection District will talk about its new chipper that will provide services for free chipping to the communities and will discuss the new fuel break funds that were made possible through a Community Protection grant.  The attendees at the event tomorrow will be  able to be part of the overall collaboration between the San Diego River Conservancy and the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation.saying thankyou for the hard work and commitments we all have made to focus on supporting the communities of Alpine and Viejas. 

.The San Diego River Conservancy is pleased to announce that it has awarded a grant to the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation and Fire Safe Councils in San Diego County. These Fire Safe Councils are remarkable organizations that work diligently to make local communities safer by engaging in activities aimed at reducing the risk and intensity of wildfires, said Julia Richards, Executive Officer, San Diego River Conservancy. Their efforts are truly commendable and deserve to be recognized year after year.  We proudly stand behind the Fire Safe Councils and support their vital work.” 


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STORM BRINGS SNOW,FLOODING, ROAD CLOSURES AND FLIGHT DELAYS

By Miriam Raftery

March 30, 2024 (San Diego’s East County) – Today’s storm brought a flash flood warning from the National Weather Service in effect through 11:30 a.m.

A SIG ALERT is in effect on Sunrise Highway, where one-way traffic control is in effect amid falling snow, the CHP website indicates. On South Grade Road at Mount Palomar, four inches of snow are covering the road and a snow plow has been requested.

Flooding has prompted closure of several roads. In East County, Quarry Road is closed between State Route 125 to Lakeview Drive in Spring Valley, according to the County Dept. of Public Works.

Shortly after 11 a.m., Gayle Falkenthal provided a photo of the arrivals and departures display board at the San Diego International Airport showing nearly all Southwest Airlines flights cancelled or postponed.


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CPSC WARNS CONSUMERS TO IMMEDIATELY STOP USING ELIDE FIRE EXTINGUISHING BALLS DUE TO FAILURE TO EXTINGUISH FIRES AND RISK OF SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH

East County News Service
 
March 29, 2024 (Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers about the risk of burns and smoke inhalation associated with the use of Elide brand fire extinguishing balls. These products can fail to extinguish a fire, which could lead to serious injury and death.

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WINTER STORM WARNING

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo via Mt. Laguna webcam

March 24, 2024 (San Diego's East County) -- The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm alert for San Diego County's mountains, in effect until 11 p.m.  Severe weaather conditions are expected with heavy snow and wind gusts up to 65 or 75 mies per hour. Downed trees and power lines are possible. Some snow has already fallen in Julian, Cuyamaca, Mount Laguna and other mountain communities.


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COUNTY EXTENDS EMERGENCY TEMPORARY LODGING PROGRAM FOR FLOOD VICTIMS

East County News Service

March 16, 2024 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend the Emergency Temporary Lodging Program.

The program, which was launched on Feb. 10, has provided safe and secure lodging for more than 840 families who were displaced by flooding from the Jan. 22 storm. 

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THUNDERSTORMS, SANTA ANA WINDS AND SNOW

 

March 14,2024 (San Diego)--A storm sweeping into our region is forecast to bring Santa Ana winds through Friday, with rain countywide and gusts up to 70 miles per hour in high desert areas. 

Mountains and deserts could have thunderstorms through Saturday, with snow down to 5,000 feet in elevation.


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REGIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU

Source: Department of Environmental Health and Quality

March 10, 2024 (San Diego) -- The County is looking to understand how we can improve services to the community during disasters. To learn more about the specific challenges communities are facing during these disasters, we are hosting online webinars open to the community as well as a survey to learn more and hear directly from the public. This information will be used to develop policy recommendations to the County Board of Supervisors about what actions the County should take to help better serve the public before, during, and after disasters. For more information and to take the survey and register for webinars please go to: https://engage.sandiegocounty.gov/regional-disaster-management


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IMPACTED BY FLOOD? YOU CAN APPLY FOR CAL-FRESH FOOD BENEFITS BY MARCH 15

By Miriam Raftery

March 6, 2024 (San Diego) – Victims of the flooding disaster in San Diego County are now eligible for temporary food assistance through Cal Fresh.  Qualified applicants will receive a debit card with at least $291 to purchase food.There is a short application window. In order to get Disaster CalFresh, people must apply by Friday, March 15.

Disaster CalFresh benefits are for people living or working in impacted counties including San Diego County on January 21 who experienced one of the following:

  • Lost wages or income because of the natural disaster, or
  • Had their home or place of employment damaged, or
  • Have disaster-related costs (including lost food, evacuation expenses), or
  • Cannot access savings or checking accounts. 

No social security number is required. 



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FLOOD VICTIMS CAN NOW APPLY FOR FEDERAL HELP AT FEMA DISASTER RECOVERY SITES IN SPRING VALLEY AND SAN DIEGO

East County News SErvice

March 2, 2024 (San Diego’s East County) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has two local disaster recovery centers that are open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Residents who had damage from the floods that occurred January 21-23 can visit the centers or register online for federal disaster relief to help pay for repairs, temporary housing and property losses,  as well as business loans, now through April 19.

The federal aid comes after President Joe Biden issued a federal disaster declaration for our regionl.

The centers are located at the Spring Valley County Library (836 Kempton St, Spring Valley) and at the Mountain View Community Center (651  South Boundary St., San Diego).


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ACTIVE SHOOTING SUSPECT IN EL CAJON ARRESTED: 1 DEAD, 2 INJURED

 

Update  March 1, 2024:  Officers and a mobile forensic lab remains on scene. Police have not revealed details, however a city official told  ECM that the shooting suspect was a digruntled patient. He has been charged with first degree murder.

Update 10  p.m.: The suspect is in custody,  per El Cajon Police post on X.

February 29, 2024 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Police seeks public help to locate Mohammed Abdulkareem, 29, who is considered armed and dangerous. He is the suspect in an active shooter event tonight at the Smile Plus dental office in the 400 block of Magnolia Avenue.

He is described as light-skinned, wearing all black clothing. He fled the scene in a white U-haul pickup truck with Arizona license plate  AM 14894, last seen heading north on N. Mollison. If you see him or have any information, please call El Cajonj Police at 619 579-3311 or call 911.


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PROTECT SANTEE INITIATIVE LAUNCHED TO IMPROVE FIRE PROTECTION

By Miriam Raftery

February 21, 2024 (Santee) – The Santee Firefighters Association (SFA) is sponsoring the “Protect Santee” ballot initiative aimed at improving fire protection. The city’s fire department resources have not kept pace with growth in the community, a problem so severe that firefighters and emergency medical first responders are not able to meet national safety response time standards, multiple reports confirm.

“With just 17 on-call firefighters and two outdated fire stations, the fire department’s response times are often DOUBLE the crucial 4-minute National Fire Safety Response Standard, as AP Triton reported in its 2023 Santee Community Risk Assessment,” a press release from  the SFA states.

The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) was hired by the SFA to provide a report on the fire department’s capabilities. It found that most fire engines are staffed by  three firefighters, not the minimum of four required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Moreover, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that two firefighters cannot enter a burning building or other dangerous situation unless at least two more fighters are outside. So Santee’s three-person crews must wait until another crew arrives before they can enter a burning home, for example.

 

The study also found most area roads are not currently served  within the safe time frames outlined in the report.  “As such, it results in an increased risk of death or injury to firefighters and the citizens of Santee, as well as increased risk for considerable property loss of housing units and businesses throughout the City,” the report concludes.


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PRESIDENT BIDEN ISSUES DISASTER DECLARATION TO BRING FEDERAL AID FOR FLOOD VICTIMS IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

February 20, 2024 (San Diego) President Joe Biden yesterday declared a major disaster in California, making federal funding available to help those who suffered flood damages from January 21-23 in San Diego County, including residents and businesses. 

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), or by using the FEMA App. Anyone using a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, can give FEMA the number for that service. 

The President ordered federal assistance to supplement state tribal, and local recovery efforts from the severe storm.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

The federal disaster declaration comes three weeks after it was requested by both Governor Gavin Newsom and San Diego Congresswoman Sara Jacob.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.


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FLOOD WATCH ISSUED SUNDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

February 18, 2024 (San Diego) – The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for  San Diego County’s mountains, valleys, and coasts,  as well as portions of Orange, Riverside,  San Bernadino ,Los Angeles and Oxnard counties. The watch is in effect tonight through Wednesday morning due to a Pacific storm moving into our region expected to bring up to 1.5 inches of rain locally.

A low pressure system from the north is forecast to bring widespread showers and isolated thunderstorms, with moderate to heavy rains capable of flooding in urban and low-lying areas.


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COUNTY STARTS SHORT-TERM LODGING FOR JAN. 22 FLOOD VICTIMS

By Cassie N. Saunders, County of San Diego Communications Office

February 12, 2024 (San Diego) -- The County of San Diego has begun providing people displaced by the Jan. 22 flooding with up to 30-days of temporary lodging.


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FREE LECTURE ON FIRE-WISE LANDSCAPING AT THE WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN

East County News Service

February 8, 2024 (El Cajon) -- California's landscape will always be characterized by wildfires, making homes and properties vulnerable to their impacts. A key component of wildfire preparedness involves proper placement and maintenance of the vegetation surrounding the home. Understanding how fires approach a house and potential vulnerabilities is critical for designing fire-resilient landscapes.

In this presentation, Tuesday, February 13 at 10 a.m., there will be discussion on the key concepts of defensible space and home hardening strategies necessary to create a fire-resilient but aesthetically pleasing landscape. 


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SNOW CLOSES SCHOOLS IN MOUNTAIN AREAS, CHAINS REQUIRED ON HIGHWAYS

Winter storm warning in effect for mountains through Thursday, Feb. 8 at  12 p.m.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Laguna Mountain Lodge webcam

February 7, 2024 (San Diego’s East County)—Several inches or more of snow blanketed San Diego County’s mountains overnight.  Snow fell in Julian, Pine Valley, and many other mountain communities, with more precipitation forecast today.

Due to weather and road conditions, several school districts are closed and have a snow day today, according to the San Diego County Office of Education:  Julian Union Elementary , Julian Union High, Mountain Empire,  Spencer Valley,  Warner Unified.


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GOVERNOR DECLARES EMERGENCY IN 8 COUNTIES INCLUDING SAN DIEGO, CITY ISSUES EVACUATION WARNINGS AS ANOTHER STRONG STORM NEARS

By Miriam Raftery

February 5, 2024 (San Diego)—A powerful storm fueled by a “Pineapple Express”  atmospheric river is pummeling much of California and is slated to reach San Diego County later today. The Governor has declared an emergency in eight counties including San Diego to support storm response and recovery efforts.  A flood watch for San Diego County issued by the National Weather Service will be in effect starting at 4 p.m. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria has issued evacuation warnings for Encanto, Southcrest Mountain View--east San Diego communities along the flood plain.

A new city-run local assistance center for flood victims at the Mountain View Community Center is closed today due to the severe weather and will reopen when weather permits. For updates in the city of San Diego, visit http://sandiego.gov/storm .  For storm recovery in the County, visit https://www.alertsandiego.org/en-us/recovery.html.  

Neither the County nor any East County cities have yet issued evacuation warnings, though residents in low-lying areas especially those that previously flooded should stay vigilant as the heaviest rains and winds hit our region late today, tonight and tomorrow.


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CALIFORNIA FIRE INSURANCE: FAIR PLAN GOING THROUGH GROWING PAINS

By Levi Sumagaysay, CalMatters

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters

File photo: Fire in Grossmont area

February 2, 2024 (California) -- The fire-insurance premium for Bill King’s home has risen 145% since 2017 — from $399 to $979 — under the California FAIR Plan, the state’s last option for homeowners seeking fire insurance.


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THOUSANDS SEEK HELP AT FLOOD ASSISTANCE CENTER IN SPRING VALLEY

 

By Kirsten Andelman

Photo, left: flooded home of the Ford family along Chollas Creek

February 1, 2023 (Spring Valley)-- When 86-year old Bienvenida Ford felt the water on her feet January 22, all she could do was yell for her sleeping daughter, Debbie, who jumped up and called 911.  But by then, the waters rushing in from the swollen Chollas Creek were already up to the women’s calves.

Within 20 minutes, the water in their National Avenue living room was up to Bienvenida’s ribs.  In the nick of time, two rescue workers swam inside and dragged her by her armpits to higher ground. Meanwhile, Debbie Ford, age 50, was fending for herself, half paddling, half floating out the front door and towards higher ground.  Hundreds of yards away she could see their freezer – recently stuffed with homemade lumpia – laying on its side on a neighbor’s property.


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CITY OF SAN DIEGO ISSUES EVACUATION WARNING, CLOSES ROADS AHEAD OF STORM

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

February 1, 2024 (San Diego) –Mayor Todd Gloria has issued a voluntary evacuation warning for people living in low-lying areas of the city ahead of the new storm moving into the area. The warning was texted to residents in theflood plain areas in Southcrest, Mountain View, Encanto, San Ysidro, Sorrento Valley and Mission Valley.

If the voluntary warning becomes an order,  San Diego Police will go door to door to inform residents.

A shelter has been set up at the municipal gym in Balboa Park. Anyone in the evacuation warning areas who needs a free ride to the shelter can call (619)280-4444 under an agreement between the city and the Ride United app.

The Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties is continuing to provide shelter for people displaced from their homes at the Lincoln High School Gymnasium located at 4777 Imperial Ave., San Diego, CA 92133. The Red Cross San Diego phone number is 858-309-1200. 

Many roads in the city are closed due to potential flooding today. For a current list, visit https://www.sandiego.gov/storm/road-closures.


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WEATHERING THE STORM: PETCO PROVIDES ESSENTIAL FLOOD SAFETY TIPS FOR SAN DIEGO'S PETS

East County News Service

January 31, 2024 (San Diego) -- In the wake of recent flooding in San Diego and with more rainy days on the horizon, it's crucial for pet parents to be prepared for emergencies. Just as we keep first aid kits for ourselves, it's vital to have one ready for our pets to provide immediate care until professional help is available.  


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Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.

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