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
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
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
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.
Chatsworth Neighborhood Council
West Valley Alliance (graffiti removal)
Police Tipoff Line
L.A. City Infoline
|OUR COMMUNITY UNITES
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.
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.
Costco sent pizzas.
LA Lasagna Co. donated trays of pasta and
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:
I personally saw the staff from Chatsworth Hills Academy trying to save and aid
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
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.
I 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
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
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.
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
-- Steve Columbus
From KCBS-TV regarding help from Andre van der Valk:
[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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)
|SIGN UP TODAY
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
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 email@example.com 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.
TYPE 'O' IN SHORT SUPPLY
Blood Donors Needed in Wake
of Train Crash
The American Red Cross is issuing an urgent appeal for blood
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 givelife.org. For
Spanish, please call 1-866-POR-VIDA (1-866-767-8432).
NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR COUNCIL BOARD
RUN FOR A COUNCIL SEAT
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.
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.
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
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
can place service requests for street repair, tree trimming,
downed trees or palm fronds in the street
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?
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.
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: