Strong winds wreak havoc across the Bay Area

April 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Gusty winds hit dangerously close to home for many people in the Bay Area Monday, causing a real mess in neighborhoods and on roads.

In San Francisco, a piece of sheet metal blown loose by the wind drew some concern as it teetered perilously outside the old Alexandria Theater. Store owners below were uneasy. "If it falls down it can easily kill somebody," one store owner said.

San Francisco police quickly closed 18th Avenue to keep pedestrians away as firefighters used a ladder truck to try and secure the sharp rusty metal. "If (the wind) gets it going it could be a pretty dangerous, but at this point, like I said, we have it pretty much secured with ropes and also ceiling hooks up there, so we are pretty good at this point," said San Francisco Fire Department Battalion Chief Pete Fay.

Police reopened 18th Avenue shortly before 11 a.m.

The San Francisco Department of Public Works says it responded to 40 different locations Monday to deal with 75 downed or damaged trees including a 75-foot eucalyptus tree that fell in Sutro Heights Park. The park is Golden Gate National Recreation Area property but the city says the park service didn't have the resources to deal with it, so it contracted the work out to the city to get the street cleared.

The old eucalyptus stretched across 48th Avenue when it fell this morning, blocking the street completely. It came to rest directly on top of the Muni bus driver's restroom. The area is a turnaround for the 38L and 38AX lines. It was moved one block away for the day.

Rick Landerman's front door is just a matter of feet from where the tree fell. He said he didn't hear it come down. It was the fire engines arriving that first brought him out to look. "I didn't hear anything crashing or creaking or cracking or anything like that. And then when I looked out the window, I saw that and it was like wow, you know?" he recalled.

The GGNRA has not confirmed it, but it's likely there was some history lost in the tree that fell in Sutro Park. It was probably planted by Adolph Sutro when he first developed the 22-acre property in the 1890s. Sutro was San Francisco's 24th mayor.

The tree at Sutro Park somehow missed hitting anything but the restroom roof. That wasn't the case on Potrero Avenue at 24th where a large tree kept some residents stuck inside their home, snapped a metal pole, and wrecked Marcus Salomen's car. "The whole backside is messed up," he told ABC7 News. "I don't even think insurance is going to cover it because we don't have full coverage, just liability."

At San Francisco State University, by late afternoon, no work had yet begun on clearing anoter fallen tree and repairing the sidewalk its roots brought up.

There was also plenty of damage on the Peninsula where a tree brought down power lines in Tommy Vargas' backyard. "Well you heard the crack and then there was a big white fireball around the end of that pole over there," he explained. "And then, I went outside and the end of the wire was sweeping down into our backyard and shorting out. So, it was like fireworks in our backyard."

In San Mateo, homeowners on Hillsdale Road said they were asleep in their bed when part of a redwood landed in their home and missed their bed by about 20 feet. Everybody was okay, but about six rooms in the house sustained some damage.

The wind also created headaches for people in the East Bay. In Pleasant Hill, downed trees toppled onto several cars and trucks parked on Ridgeview Drive overnight.

Several fishermen and charter boats at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco told ABC7 News they didn't go out on the bay because of the dangerous conditions. "It was real windy last night, gusting up to 70 miles an hour. There were white caps in the Bay, in the harbor here, so it really wasn't good enough condition to go out," said fisherman Jerid Canon.

Out at Ocean Beach, a portion of the Great Highway was closed for the day because high winds were blowing so much sand across it.

The high winds also created a big challenge for PG&E crews around the Bay Area all morning. At one point, nearly 20,000 customers were without power.


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