Tree slices Camp Meeker house in half
By SAM SCOTT AND MARY CALLAHAN / The Press Democrat
A falling fir cleaved one Camp Meeker house in half Friday and crushed another as rain wreaked havoc across Sonoma County.
Emergency personnel scrambled to handle mudslides, car crashes, power failures and roadway flooding caused by this week’s string of rainstorms on the North Coast.
The toppled tree near Occidental was the most dramatic example of the rain’s destructive power.
The Douglas fir gave way about 10 a.m., slicing through a two-story home on Redwood Avenue and sending half the structure crashing down a wooded slope.
The house had long been uninhabited. But not so with its downhill neighbor, where Dave Garner rushed home to find his living room, kitchen and much of his backyard crushed under the tree.
The tree had narrowly missed his 3-year-old dog, Lolly, and her kennel. No one had been home when it flattened the couch where he normally reclines.
But the fir had damaged nearly everything of any value, from furniture to appliances, said Garner, who moved to the rental unit about two years ago after losing a sports bar business in Mexico in the slumping economy.
The tree even wiped out his beloved barbecue, a $4,000 Kenmore Elite, said Garner, who works for Home Depot.
“It’s my favorite thing and it’s flat as a pancake,” he said shortly before taking a phone call from his older daughter, who had been on her way to visit.
The tree was estimated at more than 120 feet tall and 7 feet wide at its base.
“This is the biggest tree I have seen do this much damage,” said Ron Tognozzi, a PG&E troubleshooter.
The work week’s last storm moved out of the region Friday night and was expected to give way to cooler temperatures with a chance of showers today.
The mix of cold and showers could provide a dusting of snow as low as 1,800 feet before the weekend is over, said Christ Stumpf, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
The barrage of storms throughout the week brought some significant rain totals to the North Coast. Since Tuesday, when the first storm arrived, Santa Rosa as of 4 p.m. Friday had received 4.59 inches of rain. Middletown received 8.73 inches; Cazadero, 7.35 inches; Guerneville, 5.51 inches; Windsor, 3 inches; and Petaluma 2.77 inches.
On Friday, another tree fell across power lines on Mark West Springs Road north of Santa Rosa, blacking out 116 homes in the area, PG&E spokeswoman Brandi Ehlers said.
A wire down in Guerneville knocked out electricity to 31PG&E customers near Neeley Road. A PG&E spokeswoman said late Friday night that power was expected to be restored by 2 a.m.
Morning rain also brought flooding to low-lying roadways around the area, including sections of Highway 101 south of Rohnert Park and Cotati.
In Mendocino County, a motorist was killed after skidding off Highway 20 and into a tree between Fort Bragg and Willits on Friday morning, the CHP said. Further details were not available Friday night.
Elsewhere, mud and rockslides blocked lanes of several rural roads, including Highway128 west of Cloverdale Boulevard and St. Helena Road about halfway between Calistoga Road and St. Helena.
National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson said weekend showers would be light, and “not much more than half an inch, possibly a little more.”
Anderson forecast dry weather for next week.