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CLOSED CITY POOLS KEEP SOME IN THE VALLEY HOT NO RELIEF: FACILITIES IN PACOIMA, RESEDA AND SYLMAR SHUT FOR REPAIRS.

Byline: Susan Abram

Staff Writer

Thousands of Angelenos will beat the record heat by splashing in the cool waters of 30 city pools opening today on the first full day of summer.

But residents stuck in three sweltering San Fernando Valley neighborhoods will have to settle for the garden hose.

City pools in Pacoima, Reseda and Sylmar will remain closed for repairs throughout much of the summer, which has gotten off to a scorching start.

"Why does the city do these things?" said Noel Gomez, of Sylmar, who grew up in Pacoima and remembers swimming at Ritchie Valens Park.

"It's a bummer, especially in those neighborhoods. There are no pools in Pacoima built in the backyards."

Temperatures hit triple digits across the entire San Fernando Valley on Friday, with Woodland Hills coming in at 111, breaking a 35-year record by five degrees. Burbank tied its 1973 record of 106.

Valley residents flipping on energy-guzzling air conditioners caused power outages in North Hollywood, Van Nuys and Northridge, where a total of 10,000 people were without electricity. The power outage knocked out traffic lights over an area of the West Valley, snarling traffic for miles.

And health officials warned everyone to stay well hydrated, out of the sun and in a cool place until the heat wave breaks sometime next week.

City parks and recreation officials said the problems with pools can't always be spotted in time for summer. More than 60 percent of the city's aquatic facilities are 40 years old, said Jane Kolb, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Recreation and Parks.

"Sometimes when you test the system and you start to fill it, you find problems that happened during the winter that weren't there last year," Kolb said. "All of our pools are old and getting older. We just do the best we can to keep them open."

The city pool in Sylmar, which is undergoing concrete work, and the one in Pacoima, where crews are repairing broken pipes, are scheduled to open next month.

In Reseda, a ruptured pool line under the deck means the pool will be empty for the rest of the year.

The searing heat comes as a high-pressure weather system draws hot air from the east rather than the cooler winds off the Pacific, creating dangerously high temperatures, said Bill Hoffer, a spokesman for the National Weather Service.

"Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Go to malls, go to theaters, reduce your physical activity as much as possible," Hoffer said. "Stay out of the sun. And for God's sakes, watch pets and elderly people that might be in enclosed rooms with not much ventilation.

"Believe me, death happens quick and it's horrible."

Meanwhile, temperatures are expected to remain high throughout the weekend and fall Monday. The Weather Service forecasts a high of 102 in Woodland Hills on Sunday, falling to 94 on Monday.

With triple-digit heat lasting over such a long period, utility officials said you can expect power outages.

"It's not a coincidence that when we hit our peak at 3:13 p.m. (Friday) we've got outages," said Department of Water and Power spokesman Joe Ramallo.

The power demand Friday set a record for a June day and fell just short of the city's all-time record, Ramallo said.

Friday's demand was 6,053 megawatts; the all-time record was 6,164 megawatts.

"We're asking all residents and business owners to cut back on energy consumption ... to the extent that they can do so without jeopardizing their health or safety," said DWP General Manager H. David Nahai. "We're also reminding customers of the importance of cutting back on water use."

In addition, the Weather Service issued a red flag warning through Friday for Los Angeles County, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health continued to alert residents about unhealthy air quality.

"The Valley has become a furnace blast," said Brian Humphrey, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman. Calls to the Fire Department surged by 20percent, though Humphrey said it was unclear how many of those were due to the heat.

The coroner's office reported no heat-related deaths.

Valley residents forced to go outdoors found traditional ways to cheat the heat. They sat under shade trees, walked under umbrellas and gulped water from bottles.

At Ritchie Valens Park, where the pool is under repair, about 15 mothers stood in a circle under a tree with their young children as part of a parent education class.

But the blistering temperatures proved too much for the boys and girls, who wilted onto the grass. Mothers were on their own, singing songs about bugs.

"It's very important that they open the pool because in this neighborhood there's nowhere else to go," said volunteer Yolanda Gutierrez. "Today we'll just be here for a little while, then hurry home."

At Reseda Park, Marie Rodriguez watched her three young nephews make an attempt at fun on the playground.

"We can't take it sometimes, so we throw water balloons at each other, or we turn on the AC and color and do something else," Rodriguez said.

Orna Kagones, 39, brought her three young sons to Reseda Park to sign them up for day camp.

"We're looking for a day camp -- with a pool," said Shohan Kagones, 12.

After staring into the empty Reseda pool, Shohan said he was grateful he had friends with backyard pools.

Staff Writer Brandon Lowrey contributed to this story.

susan.abram@dailynews.com

818-713-3664

BY THE NUMBERS

106

In Burbank on Friday, which ties a 1973 record.

10,000

Valley residents in North Hollywood, Van Nuys and Northridge were without electricity Friday.

BEATING THE HEAT

Wear loose, light-color clothing.

Drink plenty of water.

Avoid alcohol, which can lead to dehydration.

Check on neighbors who lack air conditioning.

Avoid the sun and unnecessary exertion when outside.

If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a shopping mall or public library.

Never leave people or animals in a closed, parked vehicle.

Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.

Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Los Angeles County Health Department

CAPTION(S):

3 photos, 4 boxes, map

Photo:

(1 -- 2 -- color) Above, Bethany Forbes, 8, takes a swimming lesson with Stingray Swim Team coach Lloyd "Chooch" Petoscia at the Pierce College pool in Woodland Hills on Friday. At right, Lynne Miller and Joe Flood of Encino enjoy dinner at the Hollywood Bowl with Sheri Roseblum, far left, and her husband, Michael, of Malibu. Friday marked the opening night for the Hollywood Bowl summer season. Go to dailynews.com to view more photos.

Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer

Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer

(3) The Ritchie Valens pool in Pacoima will not open today along with two others in the San Fernando Valley as Los Angeles kicks off its summer swimming program.

John Lazar/Staff Photographer

Box:

(1) The forecast

(2) BY THE NUMBERS (see text)

(3) BEATING THE HEAT (see text)

Box/Map:

Valley pools

SOURCE: Daily News research

Gregg Miller/Staff Artist
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 21, 2008
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