Tropical Storm Hilary may be gone, but what it did to this community has not been forgotten

CATHEDRAL CITY — Nearly two months after Tropical Storm Hilary thrashed this community turning it on its head and leaving a swath of destruction in its wake, the city and its residents are still hurting. Many lives have been upended and their homes disfigured.

News of the Tropical Storm has faded into the background, replaced by more current news. In Cathedral City, however, the devastation remains top of mind.

At the City Council meeting on Wednesday, Councilors approved a Resolution to continue the existence of a local emergency due to Tropical Storm Hilary. Such a resolution keeps the door open for any state or federal money that might be available.

The City has already spent more than $1.062 million on contracts to clear mud from the Horizon Neighborhood and other sites. At the Sept. 27, City Council meeting, the City Council approved a $4.56 million contract for debris removal to remove more than 150,000 cubic yards of debris from the Horizon neighborhood. Additional costs for overtime and other contracted services will be in addition to these already incurred costs.

On Aug. 20, a staggering mudflow began in Upper Mission Creak overtook the Horizon Road neighborhood bordered by Vista Chino, Date Palm, and Panorama Road, dumping 4-6 feet of mud through portions of the neighborhood and trapping residents in their homes and completely blocking the local roadways. The Canyon Mobile Home Park had approximately 50 mobile homes flooded requiring the Fire Department to evacuate several residents. Additionally, the Terracina Apartments received flooding, displacing 12 households.

Numerous roadways were closed by Public Works due to flooding and debris flow. There was a 911 system outage valley wide requiring calls to be routed to the Police Department business lines. The Fire Department responded to numerous calls for rescues and flooding, overall rescuing 62 residents.

On Aug. 19, Governor Newsom declared a statewide State of Emergency in response to the extreme weather conditions. Due to unprecedented rainfall and flooding locally, the city activated its Emergency Operations Center at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20, as the city’s ability to respond exceeded available resources and to ensure a coordinated response. On Monday, Aug. 21, the City Manager, in his capacity as the Director of Emergency Services, and Fire Chief, in his capacity as Assistant Director of Emergency Services, proclaimed a local emergency.

Riverside County also declared a local emergency for the entire county on Aug. 21. On Aug. 23, the City Council ratified the proclamation of an emergency.

On Sept. 14, Governor Newsom sent a request to President Biden for a major disaster declaration for the State of California.

The need for more money is real.


Image Sources

  • Tropical Storm Hilary: Ryan Hunt, Cathedral City