County Directing Massive Efforts to Quickly Clean Up Flood Aftermath
THOUSAND PALMS – The Riverside County Transportation Department is directing all its efforts to clear major roads of debris and mud in Thousand Palms and elsewhere in the Coachella Valley, and open them to traffic over the weekend.
Monday’s severe weather deposited the estimated equivalent of a football field covered in mud eight-feet deep onto Thousand Palms roads. The Riverside County Transportation Department has dispatched equipment from other parts of the county and crews that have been working from sun-up to sun-down to clear the debris.
Supervisor John J. Benoit has assessed damages and the county’s clean-up efforts. Top transportation department officials surveyed the roads this morning.
"Everybody is focused on cleaning up the aftermath of Monday’s storm, which covered major roads with a significant amount of mud and debris,” said Supervisor John J. Benoit. “Transportation crews are working long hours and are making every effort to open these roads as expeditiously as possible. However, there is much that remains to be cleaned up and it will take several days at a minimum.”
The transportation department is concentrating its efforts on opening Ramon Road, Rio del Sol and Varner Road in Thousand Palms. Ramon Road was half-opened Wednesday, with crews directing traffic on the east side of the median. The county expects to completely open Ramon Road to traffic by the end of Wednesday.
The largest clean-up effort is at the intersection of Varner and Rio del Sol, where there is five feet of debris stretching 1,000-feet long. Transportation crews will work through the weekend to have this open by Sunday.
Varner Road from Rio del Sol to Date Palm Drive is also covered with mud and crews from the county and City of Cathedral City are working to get this clear and open to traffic.
Until the roads are cleared of material, the county is unable to assess the condition of the road and if additional repairs are needed.
Supervisor Benoit advises people to avoid roads that are still closed and take an alternate route. The transportation department posts road closures at: http://rctlma.org/trans/Road-Maintenance/Road-Closures. The Web site will be updated as roads reopen to traffic.
The Riverside County Fire Department/Office of Emergency Services coordinated the county’s emergency response Monday. They activated the new East County Emergency Operations Center in Indio, which was built to respond to events that impact the eastern part of the county.
"Emergency responders handled many flood related calls; fortunately, there were no major injuries,” Benoit said. “I’m glad our partnering agencies were able to utilize the capabilities of our new emergency operations facility. It was a well-coordinated emergency response."
As of Wednesday, the extent of damage is below the threshold required to qualify for a formal declaration of emergency for state and federal recovery funds. Federal emergency declarations typically require 100 homes to have major or catastrophic damage.
The Office of Emergency Services is still gathering information about the extent of damages. Residents in unincorporated communities of Riverside County that have damage can report it to 951-955-4700. If they live in cities, they should report to the city.