LA tries to cope with rain in a place where rain is rare

AP News
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Posted: Jan 07, 2016 1:51 PM
LA tries to cope with rain in a place where rain is rare

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When it rains in Los Angeles, the hardest thing to find can often be an umbrella.

Those who own one can't remember where they put it, and stores quickly see their stocks cleared out.

So while this week's El Nino-triggered storms have brought welcome rain — too much of it in some places — they have created the usual angst among a population more used to greeting each day with sunglasses.

"People in Los Angeles are always unprepared, even when they know it's going to rain," Morana Mendez said with a smile and a shake of her head as she looked at an empty bin in her convenience store that just hours before had been filled with umbrellas. A similar bin at a downtown store across the street was also empty.

"Even my co-worker, she came to work this morning without an umbrella," Mendez added.

After four years of drought, rain has become such an unusual event here that hours after the heavens opened the Los Angeles Times posted a story on its website headlined, "How to survive El Nino like an Angelino."

Among the common-sense tips from reporter Mariel Garza was this: "Turn on your headlights. C'mon. It's like night out there, people, I can't see your car through the downpour."

Another, which she didn't list, might have been don't park your car in a creek bed when it rains — even one with a concrete-lined bottom. The owner of a late-model Lexus did just that in the Los Angeles suburb of Orange on Tuesday.

"The problem is when the creek is dry people use it for a park-and-ride lot and leave their cars there," said Doug Westfall, who lives nearby and saw the vehicle buffeted by water after 3 inches of rain fell in four hours. Police eventually found a phone number for the owner and called to warn that if someone didn't move the car the water would.

Elsewhere, some people were doing what Angelinos do best when it rains: Staying inside.

"We've got a closet full of umbrellas, but I don't like to use them," said 19-year-old college student Monica Baerg, who decided to binge on Netflix instead. She was into Day Two on Wednesday.

Retiree Scott Paul, umbrella in hand, did brave the rain for a walk around his San Fernando Valley neighborhood.

"But I don't have any rain gear, so when it's coming down you still get wet," he said, adding he hasn't worn a water-proof raincoat or rain boots since he was child. Why? Because he lives in Los Angeles, of course, where it doesn't rain.

Along Hollywood Boulevard, where actors dressed like superheroes are ordinarily out in droves, anxious to pose for photos with tourists, not a caped crusader was in sight along the rain-drenched boulevard Wednesday.

"Batman and Superman? They left. They were freezing," top-hatted, red-jacketed Gregg Donovan, Hollywood's honorary greeter, said with a laugh as rain came down in sheets.

"There's nobody out here but me," he added. And even he had to modify his ensemble, leaving the shiny $600 Brioni shoes home in favor of galoshes.

"But they're black galoshes," he said somewhat sheepishly. "So they fit in."