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Winds topple trees, cause power outages

October 28, 2009 12:18:17 AM PDT
Wild wind gusting up to 60 miles per hour ripped through many Southland neighborhoods on Tuesday, leaving behind a lot of damage.The wind snapped a tall pine tree in a neighbor's yard, and half of the tree fell on top of the Pilgrim Community Church in South Los Angeles at about 7 p.m.

"It was almost like a passing train, the noise was so loud," said Tony Peterson, a South L.A. resident.

Peterson said he had planted the pine tree in 1965.

When the tree split in half, it caused major damage to the front of the church. The building has been red-tagged.

Lorraine Cook-Curry surveyed the damage Wednesday at a church her grandfather founded 62 years ago.

"I've grown up in this community, I've grown up in this church, and this is a shock," she said.

The church usually has a bible study on Wednesday nights, but it will most likely be canceled or held at another location because of all the damage from the toppled tree.

The pine tree's branches extended their reach to a duplex next door. Nayeli Dominguez, 15, said she was at home when the tree came crashing down.

"The roof shook and everything, and we just got up and thought it was an earthquake, so we opened the door," she said.

The pine tree was one of several trees that came down across L.A. County during the high winds.

In Woodland Hills, a tree about three stories tall on Burbank Boulevard and Topanga Canyon crashed down. When it landed, the tree hit a car that had at least one person inside, but nobody was hurt. The tree blocked westbound traffic on Burbank Boulevard.

The wind uprooted a tree in Long Beach, and it came down on top of a vacant pickup truck, nearly flattening the truck, on Peabody Street.

"It just sounded like an earthquake. The house shook everywhere. By the time I came running out, the neighbors from all over were already yelling to make sure I wasn't in the car, they were worried about that," said Tom Guard, owner of the pickup truck.

In Pacoima, a camper broke the fall of a tree, and a Jack in the Box sign flew off at Sherman Way and Coldwater Canyon in North Hollywood.

Crews were working around the clock to get power restored to tens of thousands of customers, who have been without electricity since power lines snapped Tuesday night.

The DWP said about 9,400 customers were without power Wednesday morning. Northridge, Hollywood and Mar Vista were the most affected. Crews were able to restore power to more than 33,400 customers.

Southern California Edison said 7,438 of its customers in Inglewood, Compton, Beverly Hills, Hawthorne and the San Gabriel Valley were without power.

At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the bulk of the outages were over, with power to be restored to everyone else by the end of Wednesday night.

There were many people who witnessed the wind snapping a power line at Santa Monica and Cahuenga boulevards in Hollywood.

"It was like a buzz, and then snap, and then there were some people standing underneath the power line, and they just ran for dear life," said Hollywood resident Ernest Lee.

"Every now and then the wire would swing across, and then it would make a connection, and the power would come back on, and they would arc again, and then boom, explosion after explosion," Lee said.

Paulette Harutnian of Glendale said it looked like a Fourth of July scene.

"It was green, red, yellow, white lights, everywhere, and my window had a clear shot to it," Harutnian said.


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