Mistaken flash-flood warning sent in L.A. hours before polls close as storm batters Southern California
This story was produced in partnership with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. Support for The Center for Investigative Reporting is provided by the listeners of This American Life. The Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting is broadcast on public radio stations across the country several times a week.
In Los Angeles County on Election Day, a man with a radio told residents to leave their cars and walk to either the polling site or the fire department because there was a flash-flood warning.
It wasn’t just L.A. County residents who were asked to evacuate by radio; millions across the country were told to leave.
But people living near some of the most flood-prone communities in California were not told to evacuate, and then some were told to stay put.
In San Diego County, tens of thousands of voters were told to evacuate because of flash flooding warnings sent in to several radio stations in the hours before Tuesday’s polls closed. But in some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, officials decided to wait.
For a long time I thought I was the only one who was having an out-of-the-blue meltdown in response to the radio warnings. I kept telling myself that this was probably a glitch in the system, a false alarm sent out to generate more news coverage.
But it turns out there were other people at risk.
A few blocks away in San Diego’s Central California town of Escondido, where people live in single-family homes built on or near streams or creeks, people were told to evacuate by radio stations as well.
If you are evacuating because of a flood, be aware that officials at your polling precinct are likely to say the same thing.
And if authorities tell you to leave, you are supposed to do so