East Bay

Bay Area Braces for Several Storms

The Bay Area is bracing for several storms set to hit the region this week.

The first storm arrived Monday and is expected to continue Tuesday, bringing up to 1.75 inches of rain to some North Bay locations, forecasters said.

In the North Bay, people who live along a flood-prone road in Sonoma County are holding their breath the road holds up this storm season. County officials have taken new steps to keep it from flooding this year.

"We wanted to protect the road, so we went in and actually built a concrete wall underneath the road and paved over it," said John McCarthy, Sonoma County's Public Works director.

McCarthy said they have spent $18 million to clear out drains, including the repaving and resealing of 70 miles of road throughout the county.

With a rainy week on tap, the work could soon be put to the test. Residents like Cristi Bice are hopeful.

"I hope we are able to cross it when it does rain a lot," Bice said.

In the South Bay, the wet and windy weather was too much for many drought-stricken trees.

A 60-foot tree weighing 50,000 pounds toppled down in Boulder Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and clipped a house near the local country club.

"The whole world was moving, and I hit the floor," homeowner Mike Arnett said.

In another Boulder Creek neighborhood, a resident was not so lucky. A 90-foot rotting Oak tree crashed down on a home, damaging the roof, awning, water heater and fencing. But the resident still considers himself fortunate because the falling tree hit a big Redwood on the way down.

"It slowed down its speed, which was good," resident Wallace Stokes said. "And it also changed its trajectory. Otherwise, it might have come right through the bedroom and bathroom."

In the East Bay, a large tree came down at College and Alcatraz avenues around 3:30 p.m. Monday in Berkeley. No injuries were reported, but the tree did rip up a sidewalk. Crews were still working on clearing the 50-foot elm late Monday night.

Residents said they thought it was an earthquake when the tree came crashing down.

"It sounded like a huge car crash to me," resident Jacob Irizarry said. "Then I saw the tree had gone over. I was still shaking."

Mario Nimnicht lives on the top floor of the apartment building. He felt relieved that the tree didn't fall at a time when more people were near it.

"It could have been really bad if the timing was different," he said.

Officials said it appears strong wind is the reason for the tree falling.

The gusty winds also caused problems on the bay, canceling ferry service from South San Francisco to the East Bay because of choppy waters.

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