Chatsworth Neighborhood Council
The Chatsworth Roundup
Breaking News from your Chatsworth Neighborhood Council
Saturday, September 13, 2008, 10 p.m.
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The outpouring of volunteers after the horrendous train wreck Friday afternoon was amazing.

Within minutes emergency personnel were arriving. Streets were filled with police and fire vehicles and hundreds of first responders, as well as Police Scouts, neighbors and volunteers from near and far who brought water, ice, paper towels and other emergency supplies.

I live only a few blocks from the scene. Our first indication that something was wrong was the deafening sound of multiple helicopters hovering very low over our house. Then, we could hear the sirens from all directions.

Police had set up a perimeter and no one could drive into the area other than emergency vehicles, which kept arriving well into the night. We were trapped inside the perimeter.

We gathered the cases of water in our house that are part of our earthquake provisions. I walked to Canoga and talked an officer into letting us drive the few blocks north to the command center to drop off the water plus other items that neighbors had brought. While waiting for clearance, I listened as a frantic man pleaded with the officer to let him through because he had a relative on the train and he "had to get to the train to find" his loved one. It was chilling to hear him -- and to know that the police would never let him up the road.

When we got to the command center with the carload of supplies, we helped load a police truck that was going to the train. Others brought water, ice, snacks, paper towels and some blankets. There was a small group of neighborhood boys on skateboards on the corner a few feet from the pile of donated goods. They carried small packs of animal crackers over and left them with the other supplies. A young man in full Army fatigues arrived, volunteering his manual labor plus his skills as an EMT.

As president of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council, I wanted to make sure that the immediate needs of the emergency workers were met. It was obvious from the beginning that this was going to be a long night. I decided that one thing the Neighborhood Council could provide was food. But before I ordered food for several hundred rescuers, I needed assurance that I could get it to the people who needed it.

I was standing on the corner of Canoga and Rinaldi, in the heart of the rescue operation, surrounded by hundreds of police officers. I randomly walked over to a vehicle where two officers were conferring on tactics. I waited patiently until I could talk to one of them -- Officer Herold -- about my offer of help. She immediately accepted and gave me a phone number to call when I had the food and was ready to deliver it. Over the course of the night, we talked at least eight times, trying to coordinate delivery logistics.

Have you ever called a sandwich shop and asked if they could provide sandwiches for 200 in an hour or so? I got past that hurdle without much effort, to my surprise. Later in the evening though, I had to figure out how to get 25 platters from the Subway on Mason distributed to hungry workers who were inside the nearly impossible to penetrate police line.

When I called Ralphs on Devonshire to see if their deli could provide some sandwiches, manager Jennifer Barnett said she did not have enough  personnel to make sandwiches. But, she said that if I could find people to come to the store, she would donate the ingredients for sandwiches. The manager had already volunteered  countless cases of water, paper towels and other necessary items. I started calling other Neighborhood Council members to see if I could get more people to do a variety of tasks, including being sandwich chefs.

I didn't get too far down my list before Council member Vicki Briskman said she would put together a team to help and would see what else she could get donated. In no time flat, she had almost a dozen people (whose names I don't know or I would tell you here) making sandwiches. Council member Jeff Hammond was there with trucks and drivers to distribute the goods. Council member Jelena Csanyi, who earlier had hand-carried cases of water from her home to the command center at Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Chatsworth Street, spent several hours making sandwiches and then discovered that police officers would not let her get back to her home past the police line.

Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council member Becky Leveque, who is chair of their Public Safety Committee, called me to offer help with anything we needed, including sharing costs for supplies and food we bought. Several of the Porter Ranch council members were here with donations and one of their members, Chris Cooper, is a fire captain who specializes in disaster operations.

I also coordinated with staff from Councilman Greig Smith's office to determine what was needed. Two of Smith's staff members -- Chief  of Staff Mitchell Englander and Jim Dellinger -- are Reserve LAPD officers and were on scene for hours helping pull victims from the wreckage.

I kept staffer John Bwarie busy with his Blackberry, checking with Englander on what supplies were most needed. Bwarie has been busy for several months coordinating the upcoming Great Southern California ShakeOut, which is a huge drill in November to help prepare for the gigantic earthquake that scientists tell us will come one day.

This real-life disaster was an important lesson in emergency preparedness. It was extremely gratifying to me to see so many people chipping in, doing anything and everything that was needed. Although I could not leave my street, which was filled with police vehicles, I was able to play an important role after all: coordinating people and activities. I was the point person who was called with messages about when food was ready for pick up, where more food or water was needed and even the problems some volunteers had getting back to their homes after working for several hours.

Between 6:30 p.m. and nearly 1 a.m., I was never off the phone for more than a few minutes. My part in helping was minuscule in comparison to what others did, but it felt good to be able to do something.

Late into the night, we discovered that there were almost 1,000 people at Chatsworth High School. They were mostly families awaiting word on their loved ones and some emergency personnel. We were told they had no food, no water and no restrooms. Within about two hours, there was enough food and water on site for them.

One industrious volunteer determined that the emergency workers were going to need breakfast Saturday morning. She arranged to get 50 breakfasts at 5:30 a.m. and had clearance to get through the police lines to deliver the food to those who really needed it. She had already worked at least 6 hours Friday night making and delivering sandwiches and water. While she was at the grocery store, she managed to get shoppers who were headed to their cars to go back inside and help with the food preparations.

Among the businesses making donations were Los Toros, Olive Garden, Islands and McDonald's. Trader Joe's chipped in a truck load of water.

All the volunteers and the stores and restaurants that donated goods  deserve a huge thank you, even though most said they wanted no credit. They merely wanted to help.

I know there were people helping in the neighborhood from across the city, and probably even further away. They all deserve thanks. But for every local person in Chatsworth who reached out in any way, no matter how small, you have my personal thanks and gratitude. You have proved once again that Chatsworth Cares. One of the biggest reasons that this is a great place to live is that it is full of great people.

Thank you, one and all.

Judith Daniels
Chatsworth Neighborhood Council
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(818) 464-3511

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(818) 885-8885

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(818) 832-0563

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GPS units presented to firefighters
County firefighters carry one of the injured to a waiting helicopter. A stream of helicopters flew in to take victims to several hospitals, and scores of ambulances lined Chatsworth streets as well. (Gus Ruelas/Reuters)


IN the wake of an emergency, the volunteers come out.

As a citywide tactical alert was called to deal with the worst rail accident in California history, hundreds of Chatsworth residents and stakeholders stepped up to help.  Local residents joined first responders to rescue the injured and move the dead.  Some of those community stakeholders used what they learned in Neighborhood Council-sponsored CERT classes as victims were triaged.

Local residents trucked bottled water, blankets and emergency supplies to the police command post at Canoga Avenue and Rinaldi Street, near the entrance to Chatsworth Hills Academy and the crash site.

Neighborhood Council President Judith Daniels arranged to buy 400 Subway sandwiches at a reduced price.  Chatsworth Ralphs supermarket donated the makings for hundreds of sandwiches which were assembled in the store by a production line of volunteers.

Councilmembers Vicki Briskman and Jeff Hammond arranged for donations of 375 additional dinners.  The Olive Garden, Mimi's Cafe, and Rosie's give 100 dinners each.  The Macaroni Grill cooked up 75 dinners. McDonald's donated burgers. Trader Joe's donated a pick-up truck filled with bottled water. Islands donated more than 100 hamburgers with all the dressings.

Los Toros gave eight trays of burritos. Sergio's and Costco sent pizzas. LA Lasagna Co. donated trays of pasta and sandwiches.  Papa John's gave a discount on pizzas.

Several Councilmembers were early on the scene of the accident.  Among them were Dan Huffman, Steve Columbus and former councilmembers Andre van der Valk and Adam Horwitz.  Here are some of their stories:

GPS units presented to firefightersI personally saw the staff from Chatsworth Hills Academy trying to save and aid victims.

I saw Adam Horwitz from the Sierra Canyon School, who rushed to the scene, up to his elbows in blood trying to save lives. I have been behind the lines, up close and personal, yesterday, last night, and all day today.

New track is being laid and should be complete tonight. The Union Pacific equipment has been pulled back to Moorpark, the damaged cars are being cut and sheared where they set and put in trucks as I write.

The best in the world are not only onsite, but the best in the world -- the neighbors -- started this out on the finest note possible.
--Dan Huffman

GPS units presented to firefightersI saw the first four bodies found in the crash site.  I will never forget that, or the responses of the emergency personnel who worked so hard in the rescue and recovery of the victims.   One fireman worked so hard that he collapsed.

I had gone straight to the scene in my capacity as a CERT trainee, arriving about 4:50 p.m.  There were still victims in the second and third cars, and others outside those cars, with varying degrees of injuries, mostly to the head and neck. 

A fireman requested that I evaluate two young men's injuries, and I reported a concussion and possible broken ankle. In the brief time that I was looking at them, I could see that the young man with a concussion was fading, and I requested immediate assistance for him. 

I helped remove victims from the train, and carried them to the triage area with the firemen. Andre van der Valk was there, and I saw Lisa Kay as well.  I assisted emergency personnel in moving patients from one triage area to another.  I saw a neighbor of mine, Kim Nagayama, a nurse, assisting injured victims.  L. J. Pope was bringing water to the responders.

Mitch Englander, chief of staff to City Councilman Grieg Smith, was also present. 

Words failed all of us.

I saw Skye, an RN, and her husband Dale. She went into the immediate triage area, and apparently a young woman she was working on passed away.

The residents of Chatsworth make us very proud of our community in the immediate and selfless response they made to this tragic event.
-- Steve Columbus

From KCBS-TV regarding help from Andre van der Valk:
GPS units presented to firefighters[VIDEO] All I know is his name was Andre. And I'd like to say thank you to Andre. Because Andre says to me, "My name is Andre. I'm with your wife. She's been injured. I've got her outside of the train here, and I'm not going to leave her. I'm going to stay with her until they come, until we get help for her." And he did and he later called and told me what ambulance was bringing her into Northridge.  It was incredible.

And all I know was Andre.

When I got to talk to my wife in the hospital, I discovered that this same guy came running on the train, helped get someone who had fallen on my wife off her and helped my wife off the train.

So, wherever you are Andre, you're a good man. Thank you.
 -- Albert Navalanski


Do you have a volunteer story? Send it to

Families await word.
A reunification center was established at Chatsworth High School, where family members waited to hear from their loved ones on Metrolink's Train 111. It was traveling from Los Angeles' Union Station to Moorpark and had just left the Chatsworth station when the crash occurred at 4:23 p.m. on a 45-degree bend. (Luis Sinco/L.A.Times)

Council Offers First-Aid Class

Will you be ready for the next earthquake or train derailment?

The Chatsworth Neighborhood Council is sponsoring a first-aid class on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m..  The class will be held at the Chatsworth Mobile Home Park Clubhouse, 21500 Lassen St. 

The class is free to any Chatsworth Neighborhood Council stakeholder.

Space is limited and will be assigned on a first-registered-first-served basis, so please sign up ASAP.   Call (818) 464-3511 or e-mail and leave your name, address, and either a phone number or an e-mail address.

This is the third in a series of first-responder classes offered by the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council.  Previously, the Council sponsored CERT and CPR instruction.
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GPS units presented to firefighters Blood Donors Needed in Wake
of Train Crash

The American Red Cross is issuing an urgent appeal for blood donations.

Blood supplies continue to dwindle as the Red Cross helps meet the immediate and future blood needs of those injured in Friday's train derailment and works to replenish our community's blood supply.

In response to yesterday's fatal Metrolink commuter accident with multiple deaths and injuries, the Red Cross sent additional units of blood and blood products to local hospitals and trauma centers. Blood donations are now urgently needed to replace the blood being sent to hospitals in response to this incident.

According to American Red Cross Blood Services, Southern California Chief Executive Officer Charles E Wilcox, "Type O blood is especially needed because it is the universal blood type. In an emergency, such as this incident, O negative blood is given when a patient's blood type is not known and the patient needs an immediate transfusion."

The blood center is asking all eligible individuals to donate blood now. Those involved in auto and train accidents often need large quantities of blood to help treat their injuries.

Any person age 17 or older (age 16 if accompanied by a parent) and weighing at least 110 pounds may be eligible to donate blood. Eligible donors are asked to schedule an appointment to donate by calling 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543) or by visiting For Spanish, please call 1-866-POR-VIDA (1-866-767-8432).


You may nominate yourself for the CNC Board elections to be held on Nov. 1, at the Chatsworth Train Depot from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. We invite everyone to participate. It's your Council.

Here are the nomination forms:
-- Candidate Filing Form
-- Stakeholder Registration Form

Questions?  Call (818) 464-3511.
About the Council

The mission of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council is to provide an open forum for public discussion of issues concerning the Chatsworth community and to facilitate communication between the City of Los Angeles and Community Stakeholders.

Map of Chatsworth Neighborhood Council boundaries.  Click here.

When We Meet

All volunteer committees meet monthly.  Meetings begin at 7 p.m. at the Chatsworth Train Depot at  10038 Old Depot Plaza Road, Chatsworth, unless otherwise noted.

  • 1st Wednesday:
  • CNC Board at Lawrence Middle  School.

  • 2nd Tuesday:
  • Beautification.

  • 3rd Tuesday:
  • Equestrian.

  • 3rd Wednesday:
  • Enhancement.

  • 3rd Thursday:
  • Land Use.

  • 4th Tuesday:
  • Outreach.
  • 4th Wednesday:
  • Public Safety & Transportation at Rockpointe Club House, 22300 Devonshire St.

  • Election Committee, TBA

    Check the CNC website for last-minute changes.

  • City Services

    Zero Waste
    The City has a Zero Waste team soliciting opinions on how to reduce solid waste. Find out how you can participate. Zero waste brochure.

    Bureau of Sanitation
    The BOS is working to convert our solid waste into renewable energy. Read the brochure.

    Be Prepared for
    the 'Big One'

    This is the 150th anniversary of the last great San Andreas Earthquake. Dare to Prepare is a campaign to prepare for the next big quake. Find out what you can do at the Dare to Prepare site. Read the LAFD letter.

    Free Shade Trees
    You can get free shade trees through DWP. Read about the Trees for a Green LA program

    DWP Residential Energy and Water Saving Programs
    The DWP offers incentives to recycle your old refrigerator and buy an energy efficient one. Other appliance incentives are available too. Receive $100 towards an ultra low flush toilet. Read about DWP rebates.
    Online Service Requests
    You can place service requests for street repair, tree trimming, downed trees or palm fronds in the street online.
    This is a service provided by the  Bureau of Street Services.

    Property Activity Reports
    Did you know that you can view all permit requests for a property online? Click here to access the City's online reporting system. Enter in the address and view the permits.
    This is a service provided by the Department of Building and Safety.
    --Adapted from the PRNC newsletter.
    CNC Contact

    Chatsworth Neighborhood Council
    Post Office Box 3395
    Chatsworth, CA 91313-3395

    Ph:  (818) 464-3511
    Fax: (818) 464-3585


    Complete CNC activities calendar:

    Complete community events calendar: