Mayor Antonio Villarigosa used an emergency press conference on Thursday afternoon to call on the 140,000 Angelenos still without electricity to remain patient, as LADWP crews worked to repair damages caused by a "once in a lifetime" windstorm.
"This is one of the worst storms that the city has experienced in decades," Villaraigosa said.
Villaraigosa said the LADWP has restored power to more than 80,000 customers and that the worst of the storm may be over. Over the next 24 hours, the mayor said, the storm is expected to transition to a traditional Santa Ana windstorm.
He added that "after some power outages and debris issues at [Los Angeles International Airport] last night, the airport is operating normally today."
He said LADWP crews were hard at work repairing damage caused by Wednesday's fierce winds, which were recorded at speeds of up to 100 mph in the Mount Washington area of Los Angeles.
"We have more than 100 crews out working safely and quickly to restore down power lines at more than 1,000 separate incidents," Villaraigosa said. "For customers currently experiencing outages, they need to be aware it could take some time—maybe as long as 48 hours. We hope much sooner. We're asking for your patience."
He urged Angelenos to remain vigilant when driving or walking around their neigborhoods.
"I urge Angelenos to use extreme caution around downed power lines and fallen trees," he said. "They should assume any downed power line is live, and if you see a down power line, stay as far away as possible and call 911."
Vilaraigosa said the city's 311 non-emergency line would be open 24 hours while the city recovered from the windstorm, and said residents could use the line to report less severe damage caused by the storm.
Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Brian Cummings said that fire crews have responded to 1,425 calls since midnight Wednesday, and that the department was well on its way to doubling its typical call load for an average day.
Cummings said a red flag alert would remain in place until 8 p.m. Friday, as high winds and low humidity still posed a high fire threat.
An additional 21 engines would be on patrol, Cummings said, along with brush patrol vehicles to handle the additional call load.
Cummings said as the storm transitioned into a more traditional Santa Ana wind event, heavy gusts could be expect in the San Fernando Valley.
"We'll see those breezes in the San Fernando Valley, through the Santa Ana corridors," Cummings said. "The wind will diminish but we're still at an increased threat of fire due to the wind and the low humidity."
In addition to the red flag alert, Jim Featherstone, director of the city's Emergency Operations Center, said the center activated a Level 2 response stance at 9:30 a.m. Thursday as a result of storm damage.
"We'll be operating through the night to handle crisis issues and to coordinate the city's response effort," Featherstone said.