Is Your Community Prepared for El Nino?

A few years back, a colleague received a frantic call from his wife in California while we were overseas. A brush fire was bearing down on their house. Worse yet, she wasn’t home and their pets were trapped. Fortunately, the house was spared and the pets were safe. However, in that moment, their lack of preparation had them in a last minute frenzy.

There’s no way to anticipate the impact a natural disasters will have, but we should all take the proper precautions in advance. That being said, we should all be taking steps to plan for El Niño because, if the reports are correct, flooding will happen this winter.

Now is the time to plan with our families and communities. Just as our urban forest depends on people to plant, care and advocate for trees, so our ability to survive disaster depends on how well we connect with those around us.

Before the rains hit, create a plan of action with your neighbors in the case of flooding, mud slides or power outages. Who might need help? Who can help if your own pets or dependents are stuck at home while you’re away? These simple conversations can prevent tremendous grief later.

Need a little help getting started? Here are some fantastic resources:

1. Create a community plan. Visit for guidance in coordinating an effective disaster plan with your neighbors.

2. Become a neighborhood organizer. The Los Angeles Emergency Management Department can help you prepare to lead others in case of an emergency–including toolkits in several languages!

3. Get trained in disaster relief. Learn to provide immediate victim assistance, organize spontaneous volunteers and collect disaster intelligence to assist professional responders. with prioritization and allocation of resources. The Los Angeles Fire Department holds trainings around the city regularly. Find a date to get trained, today.

4. Double check. Use this handy checklist from the Red Cross to ensure you’re adequately prepared before, during and after an emergency.

Community can make us resilient in challenging times. Reach out to those who you can help and can help you. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Help us respond to disasters this winter. Give now to support out work in creating water-secure LA.



By Andy Lipkis

Andy Lipkis is a practical visionary who has dedicated his life to healing the environment while improving the lives of individuals and communities. He founded TreePeople in Los Angeles in 1973 at age 18 and continues to serve as its President. Andy has spearheaded an approach using trees and forest-inspired technologies to make cities sustainable while mitigating floods, drought, pollution, and climate change. Called “Functioning Community Forests,” it is being demonstrated in L.A. as a model for cities everywhere.