Southern California Rainstorms Force Faculty and Students to Adapt


Sal Ortega

Maintenance draining the water behind Frank Field.

Normally Westridge has nice, sunny SoCal weather, but recently all of Los Angeles has been gloomy and full of rain. Westridge’s naturally dry climate means we usually don’t have many weather-related issues, and the campus is easy to maintain. However, with the recent rain that started at the beginning of this year, the facilities team at Westridge has begun to address many of the problems that are arising due to the heavy rain and even flooding. 

The recent rain storms starting at the end of February through March caused flooding in several buildings such as the Performing Arts Center (PAC) and MUDD, forcing the facilities crew to act.

Typically when it rains, there are steps the facilities team takes to prevent flooding and make Westridge’s campus safe. According to Sal Ortega, Westridge’s Facilities Manager, the facilities staff begin by removing water from the drains to help prevent flooding when the rain first begins. Next, they clear out the gutters by getting rid of leaves or anything that could prevent water draining. This routine is repeated every year. However, this year, preparing for the storms wasn’t enough.

Water pockets in the ceiling underneath the Dining Commons. (Lilah R.)

Despite efforts to mitigate flooding, problems still occur when it rains. The area underneath the school’s cafeteria, the Commons, is one instance of this flooding. “Because there were too many leaves in the gutters, the water goes into the building leaks, and we can’t prevent these random leaks from popping up like in this recent rain,” said Mr. Ortega.

Though flooding has happened in previous years, the recent winter storm has brought heavier rain than normal, which escalated the severity of flooding and leaks. According to Mr. Ortega, the drains are too small and cannot handle the amount of water trying to flow through the drains.

Daniel Calmeyer, an Upper School Math teacher who teaches in Karsh, an underground classroom directly below the Commons, has seen many leaks and floods over the years. “It has been flooding down here for as long as I can remember. I appreciate that maintenance is aware of it, and they plan on fixing it in the summer once it dries out. I don’t think there have been any major problems [because of the leaks]. It’s more of just an annoyance,” said Mr. Calmeyer.

Facilities fixing the water damage the roof of PAC (Sal Ortega)

In addition to the damage underneath the Commons, there has also been damage in PAC in the costume department and on the roof. “PAC was the one that got hit the hardest,” said Mr. Ortega. 

Flooding in front of MUDD in the middle school area. (Sal Ortega)

It isn’t just facilities staff that has had to scramble during the rainstorms. Campus safety also responds with additional precautions, particularly during carline when kids get dropped off and picked up for school. Aside from students getting wet, there are also added dangers for drivers in the rain. Florence J. ’25, who typically arrives at school on the earlier side, said, “Carline is horrendous with the rain; it’s very chaotic and very stressful.” Isla R. ’25 added on, saying, “I’m already trying to take out multiple bags from the car, and the flooding makes it even harder to do.” 


Over the years, Campus Safety and Security Manager Anthony Scearce has come up with ways to keep carline as efficient and safe as possible. “We set up the cones, and we make sure campus safety is in bright lime green vests so they are very visible [to the drivers and students]. I also make sure I am the one grabbing the bags from students, so all they have to do is get out of the car. We also tell our parents ahead of time to park closer to the curb, so the kids aren’t stepping in the puddles and slipping and falling,” said Mr. Scearce.

While the puddles in the carline might not be a solvable issue even for the facilities team, this summer they do plan to repair some of the damage in the hopes of preventing future issues. “People in the past have tried to repair [some of the damage], but we’ve had bad luck with it. We have a different game plan this summer, and hopefully we [will] see all the water [that creates leaks and floods] go away,” said Mr. Ortega.