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Mayor: 'Restoring Power Could Take 48 Hours'

The once-in-a-lifetime wind storm has left 140,000 LADWP customers without power as of Thursday afternoon, according to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Mayor Antonio Villarigosa used an emergency press conference on Thursday afternoon to call upon the 140,000 Angelenos still without electricity to remain patient, as LADWP crews worked to repair damages caused by a "once-in-a-lifetime" wind storm.

"This is one of the worst storms that the city has experienced in decades," Villaraigosa said.

Neighborhoods across the city were severely affected by the storm, with Northeast L.A. among the hardest hit regions. More than 61,900 homes in the area lost power.

A water pumping station in Mount Washington lost electricity on Thursday morning as well, prompting LADWP to urge Northeast L.A. residents to conserve water.

According to LADWP Director Ron Nichols, power had been restored to the station as of Thursday afternoon.

Villaraigosa said that LADWP has restored power to more than 80,000 customers and the worst of the storm may over. Over the next 24 hours, the mayor said, the storm is expected to transition to a traditional Santa Ana windstorm.

He added that "after some power outages and debris issues at [Los Angeles International Airport] last night, the airport is operating normally today."

He said LADWP crews were hard at work to repair damage caused by yesterday's fierce winds, which were recorded at speeds up to 100 mph in Mount Washington.

"We have more than 100 crews out working safely and quickly to restore down power lines at more than 1,000 separate incidents," Villaraigosa said. "For customers currently experiencing outages, they need to be aware it could take some time--maybe as long as 48 hours. We hope much sooner. We're asking for your patience."

He urged Angelenos to remain vigilant when driving or walking around their neigborhoods.

"I urge Angelenos to use extreme caution around downed power lines and fallen trees," he said. "They should assume any downed power line is live, and if you see a down power line, stay as far away as possible and call 911."

Vilaraigosa said the city's 311 non-emergency line would be open 24 hours while the city recovered from the wind storm, and said residents could use the line to report less severe damages caused by the storm.

Los Angeles Fire Dept. Chief Brian Cummings said that crews have responded to 1,425 calls since midnight, and that the department was well on its way to doubling its typical call load for an average day.

Cummings said a red flag alert would remain in place until 8 p.m. on Friday, as high winds and low humidity still posed a high fire threat.

An additional 21 engines would be on patrol, Cummings said, along with brush patrol vehicles to handle the additional call load.

Cummings said as the storm transitioned into a more traditional Santa Ana wind event, heavy gusts could be expect in the San Fernando valley.

"We'll see those breezes in the San Fernando Valley, through the Santa Ana corridors," Cummings said. "The wind will diminish but we're still at an increased of fire due to the wind and the low humidity."

In addition to the red flag alert, Jim Featherstone, Director of the City's Emergency Operations Center, said the center activated a level 2 response stance at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday as a result of the storm's damages.

"We'll be operating through the night to handle crisis issues and to coordinate the city's response effort," Featherstone said. 

Check Patch soon for a full video from Thursday emergency press conference.

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