President Biden, in Speakerphone Call to Los Angeles Mayor, Promises Aid

Mayor Karen Bass of Los Angeles was midway through a news conference on Monday evening, updating residents on the storm pummeling Los Angeles, when she suddenly stepped away from the microphone to take a phone call — from President Biden.

A reporter had been asking about efforts to rescue a man who had jumped into the raging Los Angeles River to save his dog when an aide pulled the mayor aside.

A few minutes later, after the fire chief, Kristin Crowley, fielded the question, Mayor Bass came back to the podium.

“I asked the president if he would give a message to Angelenos. Mr. President?” she called out, holding her phone up to the microphone.

“Yes,” he replied.

“If you could just say a word, I know Angelenos would really appreciate hearing that,” the mayor said.

“Look, first of all, I think you guys are undergoing one hell of an operation here,” Mr. Biden said, adding that he had just gotten off the phone with Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The president continued: “We’ll get any help on the way as soon as you guys request it, so just let me know. That’s why I’m calling.”

The sudden call came as Los Angeles city officials were providing an update on the record-breaking rainfall that had triggered more than 120 mudslides and damaged 25 structures, after an atmospheric river deluged wide swaths of the state.

Lindsey Horvath, a Los Angeles County supervisor, said the region avoided the sort of extreme flooding that emergency workers and rescuers had prepared for. Instead, she said during the news conference, “the damage has been more like 1,000 cuts — sinkholes, downed trees, areas of erosion.”

But Ariel Cohen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Los Angeles, noted that the danger had not yet passed, and he warned Angelenos to stay vigilant as the rain continued.

“The ground is extremely saturated — super saturated,” he said, adding, “It’s not going to take much rain for additional landslides, rockslides and mudslides to occur.”

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