Riverside homeless warned of El Nino dangers

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- With El Nino expected to bring heavy rains and flooding to Southern California, officials in the Inland Empire want people to get ready, especially the homeless.

They're encouraging those who camp in the Santa Ana River bottom to move out of the area before the weather system wreaks havoc.

It was an early morning wake-up call Tuesday on the Santa Ana River bottom, where Riverside city officials made contact with the homeless population in the area, spreading the word about the El Nino weather pattern.

If it rains as much as it did during the last El Nino, the river bottom will not be a safe place to sleep.

"Ten feet of water coming at you with all the debris, rocks, mud and debris and everything coming with it, you won't survive that," said Anthony Coletta, Riverside County emergency services coordinator.

Area residents say it's important to reach out to the homeless population, but city officials say not everyone believes the potential danger.

Officials handed out placards to the homeless population living in the river bottom. Not only does it show the dangers of flash flooding, it also includes phone numbers and places where people can get help.

"Our ongoing mission is to encourage people to accept those services for their own sake and for the safety of those who live in neighborhoods nearby," said Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey.
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