El Niño Preparedness

According to many experts, this winter’s El Niño (2015) is predicted to be one of the strongest on record. Due to the increased likelihood over the coming months of disruptive weather, including strong winds and heavy rain, Pepperdine University has been implementing a comprehensive El Niño preparedness plan. These preparations include, among other things, a review of our emergency plans to protect our students, faculty, staff, and guests as well as inspections and maintenance of drainage systems, coordination among first responders, preparation for emergency supplies deployment, and an evaluation of areas on campus that may be most affected by substantial rainfall, including our hillsides.

As with any emergency, Pepperdine considers the safety of its community its highest priority. In order to help our community remain safe, communication with the University community is critical. In the event of a campus closure or other departure from normal campus operations due to inclement weather, please check this website (http://emergency.pepperdine.edu) for the latest updates from Pepperdine’s Emergency Operations Committee (EOC). Information on road closures within the Malibu area is also noted on the University’s Road Conditions Hotline (310) 506-ROAD (7689). You may also call additional emergency line that is updated during emergencies with the latest information (888) 286-5659.

University calendars have been reviewed for events which may be impacted by inclement weather and event planners have been encouraged to create alternate plans. Reminders of the need to secure equipment have been sent to University departments which use outdoor spaces for their operations. Information on El Niño preparedness has been shared with faculty and staff in annual emergency preparedness e-mails, discussed at the President’s Briefing, and is now posted on the University’s Emergency Information Page (http://emergency.pepperdine.edu). Plans are also in the works to share details with parents and other key community stakeholders.

Pepperdine’s Department of Facilities maintains campus infrastructure and helps prepare the campus for emergencies. Their team has been busy inspecting and clearing gutters and storm drains to ensure rainwater is diverted appropriately away from buildings. They have also planned with their colleagues from Public Safety, for the careful and strategic deployment of sandbags on campus.

Landscapers have reviewed campus grounds to determine areas at potential risk from wind or rain. By identifying them before the storms arrive, we have an opportunity to modify the landscaping in these areas and hopefully avoid potential issues.

Lastly, Facilities Services is reviewing and updating their checklists of steps to take and campus locations to inspect both before, during, and after rainstorms, to help them respond quickly to any issues that might arise.

To prepare campus hillsides, a material called Flexterra has been applied to some of the slopes throughout campus to help control erosion. This high performance, flexible growth medium bonds directly to the soil and helps a mixture of native seeds establish and grow. Flexterra is considered one of the most sustainable and effective ways of minimizing soil loss and runoff, and because it is hydraulically applied, it has no nets or threads to endanger wildlife.  It is also safe for animals and humans, biodegradable, and non-toxic.  The initial bright green color will last about two weeks before fading into a more neutral green and brown. The material has been applied on the slopes across from the TAC and the Seaver Main lot, at the School of Law, and at the Drescher Campus Student Residential Complex.

Please contact the Office of Insurance & Risk, which is coordinating the University’s El Niño preparedness efforts, at (310) 506-4410 or e-mail risk.management@pepperdine.edu with any questions.