Southland Takes Big Hit From Wind Storm

Power outages, damage from downed trees are everywhere

By Antonio Castelan and Bill French
|  Friday, Dec 2, 2011  |  Updated 5:21 AM PDT
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Houses are damaged and thousands left without power in the wake of a giant wind storm.

Chuck Henry, Julie Brayton

Houses are damaged and thousands left without power in the wake of a giant wind storm.

Photos and Videos

Power Outages Leave Residents in the Dark

Thousands of people were still without electricity Thursday night in Southern California, and it may stay that way for awhile

Winds Rock Inland Empire

Strong winds toppled trees and power lines in Fontana forcing businesses to use generators for power.
More Photos and Videos

Areas around the Southland took a beating from Wednesday morning's wind storm.

"It's almost pretty insane last night," said Greg Tobey, still somewhat in shock. "I've been here 40-something years and I've never seen the wind like that."

Tobey stood by his garage and vintage car, both mangled by a falling tree. He and his neighbors estimate the wind speeds at 90 miles per hour early Thursday morning, as trees were uprooted. The neighborhood looked like it had been through a hurricane or tornado.

Denise Pehrsson woke up to find her oak tree in the middle of the street.

"It was very frightening," Pehrsson said. "The noise was unbelievable. I've lived here for 25 years and this is the worst it's ever been."

As the sun set Thursday afternoon, thousands of people in Arcadia were still without electricity.

"No power," said resident Greg Thomas. "Get up in the morning you have no electricity and you can't cook, electric stove, and all these trees are down. It's devastating."

Resident Todd Shoope hates to see it, but in a twist of fate, it will bring in some cash for the holidays. Shoope is a tree trimmer, who now has a lot of work to do.

"It's a good business," said Shoope. "Two weeks, a week, I don't know."

Zoe Samerjan is young enough that she can honestly say she has never seen anything close to this. And once is enough.

"I don't want this to happen again," she says flatly.

The strong winds also wreaked havoc in the Inland Empire.

On  Interstate 15 the gusting winds made driving  a challenge, toppling multiple trucks onto their sides Thursday morning.

Fontana was littered with wind snapped power poles and downed trees. Affected businesses had to use generators for power as Edison workers toiled all day in the heavy winds to repair the damaged lines.

Fontana resident Mike Halford said the power lines toppled like dominos. “Really unbelievable. Really windy. Once one [power pole] went, they all went.”

In Boyle Heights, the treacherous winds took down a eucalyptus tree that has withstood hundreds of windstorms in its lifetime. Two homes, which have had that tree as their neighborhood landmark are now red-tagged.
 
Pablo Marques couldn't believe his eyes when he saw that his home of 56 years was wrecked.

"It was like an earthquake, very strong," said Marques.
 
Rosario Cervantes, who lives next door, has power lines sitting on it and no electricity. And, she can't go near her home until the lines are all cleared.
 
Tim  Frentz runs a jewelry business out of a home in the neighborhood and said the power has been on-again, off-again since the wind started last night.
 
"It would be on for 10 minutes and then, 15 minutes at a time. Then, it would keep going back out. So, we decided to give the managers the day off.
 
The DWP has all hands on deck and are even calling in crews form out of state for help. It could be one day or two before all power is restored.

 

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