Storm makes for slow, dark day in mountains

January 19, 2010 11:44:28 PM PST
In life, the 100-foot redwood along Highway 9 tree was no doubt anonymous. In falling, it was known throughout Felton.

The roots gave way shortly after 8 a.m.; traffic on Highway 9 came to a standstill and the energy that once surged through nearby power lines came to an abrupt halt.

"I heard a really loud explosion and then looked out the windows and saw sparks flying," Felton resident Diane Flores said.

A small army of PG&E workers descended on Felton, but the damage was done. The San Lorenzo Valley School District cancelled classes at all of its campuses.

"Absolutely disruptive; this was finals week at the high school so this is pretty critical right now and I'm sure they'll get back on track, but storm doesn't help," Director of Maintenance Steve Burley said.

None of the mountain creeks or rivers approached flood stage, but the water did rise fast enough to remind people of the threat.

"We're worried about the river flooding, we're worried about just everything right now," Felton resident Kayley Schamberg said.

By far the biggest inconvenience was the power outage. Some businesses in Felton simply closed; the mechanics at one auto shop did their best to work in the dark and some like Masood's Liquor and Deli were prepared.

"It's very important, because I learned that 15 years ago, that's why I got the biggest generator to handle the whole store," owner Masood Madani said.

The storm created work for others. Tree service companies had trouble keeping up with the falling debris.

Santa Cruz County has some 14 road closures and the promise of more to come. It is likely Tuesday morning's redwood tree will not be alone in its grand exit.

"We're just waiting for tomorrow to see what else is going to come down because there's a huge fir on Alba and a third of the roots are already showing," Felton resident Kristi diAmico said.