Tropical Storm Hilary Prompts School Closures and Safety Precautions Across Southern California
As Tropical Storm Hilary advanced towards the coast of Baja California, officials in Southern California have taken decisive measures to ensure the safety of residents and students. With the storm’s potential for heavy rain, strong winds, and the looming threat of dangerous flooding, the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) made the difficult decision to close schools on Monday.
Tropical Storm Update: PUSD schools are closed Monday, August 21. We want everyone to stay safe and avoid any unnecessary travel or exposure to dangerous road conditions. Some employees must report to their work sites at 10 a.m. Check https://t.co/jriNk0YhBa Stay safe! pic.twitter.com/z7VvObPvdW
— @PasadenaUSD (@PasadenaUnified) August 21, 2023
“We believe that the safety of our students and staff is paramount,” stated Michelle Richardson Bailey, President of the School Board, emphasizing the need for precautionary action.
Though Hilary weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm, it was still projected to bring significant impacts. The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning for Hurricane Hilary until Monday night, with particular concern for Los Angeles County and Southern California areas susceptible to high winds and flash floods. The Interim Superintendent of PUSD, Dr. Elizabeth Blanco, explained the rationale behind the decision to close schools in light of these potential hazards.
“While schools play a vital role in our community, the safety and well-being of our students, employees, and their families are our top priorities,” Dr. Blanco noted. The closure encompasses not only academic activities but also athletic events and third-party engagements on PUSD campuses. Essential personnel, including the Superintendent’s Leadership Team, school administrators, and maintenance workers, are to report to their respective sites by 10 a.m. on Monday. For those for whom travel is unsafe, communication with supervisors is advised.
Recognizing the impact of school closures on students who rely on meals provided by schools, PUSD will be arranging “Grab and Go” meal options at select locations, ensuring some continuity in the face of the storm’s disruption.
The proactive approach to ensuring safety is not limited to PUSD. The Los Angeles Unified School District has similarly announced its decision to close schools on Monday, aligning with the shared concern for residents’ welfare.
Pasadena’s city officials, including Mayor Gordo, Fire Chief Chad Augustin, and Police Chief Gene Harris, held a press conference to apprise residents of the latest storm information and the city’s preparedness. The City’s Emergency Operations Center is currently active to facilitate coordinated responses.
In anticipation of potential emergency situations, a shelter at Villa Parke opened its doors to clients early Saturday. The shelter is manned around the clock, providing refuge for those impacted by the storm’s effects.
As Tropical Storm Hilary continues its trajectory, concerns remain high regarding flash flooding, landslides, and other severe weather-related incidents. A flash flood warning has been issued for several areas, including Long Beach, Malibu, and downtown Los Angeles. Authorities are advising Southland residents to exercise caution and avoid unnecessary travel, hikes, or beach visits during the storm’s course.
The collaborative response by officials, schools, and emergency services underscores the importance of safety in the face of natural challenges, emphasizing the shared commitment to protecting communities throughout Southern California.