Massive Storm Ravages the Valley and the State

October 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Valley's first storm was enough knock out power and send trees and branches to the ground.At one point, the high winds and rain caused a tree to the fall in front of a Southeast Fresno home.

Earlier in the day, city crews spent the day trying to prevent flooding. They brought in a pump to remove standing water at Parkview and Belmont in West Central Fresno.

The storm also caused power problems across the city. Students at Gibson Elementary spent the entire day without electricity after a power pole near the school caught fire.

One local restaurant used candle lights to prepare and serve meals. "I have a little bad eyesight, so I was getting so close to the pans, to see if it was boiling. Because we couldn't see if it was boiling or not," said Pino Borrello with Gigi's Italian Restaurant.

The weather also put part of the state's power supply in jeopardy. Wind and rain knocked down a high voltage line in moss landing that supplies power to the Valley's west side, and people throughout northern California were asked to conserve energy.

In other parts of the state, the rain forced many people to leave areas burned by recent wildfires. About 60 homes in the town of Davenport in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and about a dozen homes near Watsonville were evacuated because of possible mudslides.

Rains threaten a 400-mile span from San Francisco to Los Angeles; flooding streets, toppling trees, and canceling flights from San Francisco International Airport.

Many drivers plowed past road blocks and paid the price. "It appeared to be black ice, looked like pavement. I couldn't tell it was flooded."

The rains caused hundreds of accidents, leaving tens of thousands without power and flooding local waterways.

Sometimes sand bags weren't enough. Residents of one apartment building had to evacuate. 75-mph winds turned the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge into a wind tunnel sending the empty trailer of this 18-wheeler sailing into a passing car.

In Southern California, homeowners rushed to erect sandbag barriers to stop the earth from burying their homes. "We've got the potential for some of the biggest landslides we've seen in a century," said Lucy Jones, U.S. Geological Survey.

In La Canada, authorities evacuated homes spared by the recent Station Fire. The blaze wiped out anything that would stop a mudslide.

The worst is likely yet to come. Wednesday, forecasters predict 3 to 6 inches of rain and hurricane-force winds.

John Hendren with ABC News contributed to this report.


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