Santa Ana wind damage stuns Southland residents
Southland residents, tens of thousands of them without electricity, braced for a second onslaught of cold and freakishly powerful winds late Thursday, having barely had time to assess the fallen trees and shredded rooftops left by the previous night’s barrage.
“Nobody in our department has ever seen such widespread damage. Nobody,” said Jon Kirk Mukri, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, talking of scores of city parks so littered with broken branches and teetering trees that they were considered a threat to public safety.
Officials took the rare step of temporarily closing Griffith Park because of the windstorm, fearing that downed wires might spark fires in piles of dry, shattered trees. Utility workers struggled to restore power to about 370,000 customers in the city and other areas darkened by the first, and broken traffic lights and downed trees snarled traffic across affected communities.
In heavily hit Pasadena, it was a question of where to begin. Sixty people, many of them elderly and disabled, were bused to a Red Cross shelter from an apartment building on Hudson Avenue that flooded after a tree crashed through the roof and broke a water pipe.
Roof shingles were peeled off and garage doors knocked askew. Thousands were without power and 200 buildings were damaged, more than three dozen residences so badly that they were “red-tagged” — deemed unsafe to use.
“Throughout the entire 26 square miles of the city, streets are littered with trees and tree limbs, downed power lines and wires,” Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck said in an interview in the basement of City Hall. People who called the local utility were given the grim word: Get some ice. Some flashlights.
The message was clear: Prepare for a long night.