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Rossmoor picks up pieces from epic storm

Golf courses closed until Thursday because of unsafe conditions

By Craig Lazzeretti

Assistant managing editor

(Monday, Oct. 25) In the 13 years he’s lived in Rossmoor, Donny Pettibone had never seen anything like Sunday’s epic storm that dumped 6 inches of rain in the valley.

“I saw rain before, but not like this,” said the resident of Entry 1 on Rossmoor Parkway. “It was constant, and at times it just rained harder.”

Teddi Swanson, another resident of Entry 1, had the same assessment as she and others watched crews tend to a large eucalyptus tree Monday morning that had crashed to the ground a short distance from manors. “I grew up just over the hill, and I never experienced something like this.”

Workers tend to a fallen eucalyptus tree in Entry 1 on Rossmoor Parkway.

For Connie Palladino, it was as if “the sky opened up” when she heard the eucalyptus fall to the ground shortly after returning from a trip to Palo Alto.

The tree was about 20 feet from Tom and Christina Strain’s patio when it came tumbling down around 6 p.m. “It felt like an earthquake and sounded like a boom,” Tom Strain said.

Strain estimated that the tree stood about 100 feet tall. Some large branches pointing toward his manor were trimmed a few weeks ago, he said. “If it wouldn’t have been trimmed, it could easily have fallen our way,” he said. “We were lucky.”

The eucalyptus was just one of many Rossmoor trees that were the biggest victims of the drenching downpour and howling wind.

Director of Golf Mark Heptig said Monday morning that at “first look,” at least six trees were lost on the golf courses alone, including a large heritage oak near Dollar Clubhouse and a stone pine on Creekside, whose giant exposed roots greeted drivers and walkers on Rossmoor Parkway.

Tice Creek, which became little more than a trickle during the height of the summer drought, surged through the Creekside course on Monday, flooding walkways and strewing them with debris. Many of Creekside’s sand traps were transformed into ponds.

GRF said the courses would remain closed to walkers and golfers until Thursday because of unsafe conditions. That message was amplified Monday afternoon when another tree near the first hole on Creekside fell.

A swollen Tice Creek spills onto one of the walking bridges on Creekside Golf Course on Monday, Oct. 25.

“It is a mess,” Heptig said.

Workers dug trenches to keep water away from manors. Extra sump pumps were bought. It took three people to handle an estimated 100-plus rain-related calls as the phones rang nonstop.

Paul Donner, director of Mutual Operations, said MOD had staff and contractors “working around the clock” during the storm to respond to leaks, ground drain flooding, creek overflows and fallen trees. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries, he said.

“I haven’t heard of any major damage yet, but it’s still early,” he said. “We are still catching up on the calls. This will take several days to sort out.”

Securitas called in extra staff to help answer the deluge of calls that came in during the storm.

“I was very happy to see the sun out today,” Securitas Site Manager Steve Bertolozzi said Monday morning.

It was so busy Sunday, he didn’t have time to log all of the calls to Securitas, but he estimates

A fallen heritage oak tree near Dollar Clubhouse

there were at least 100.

“It was an unprecedented storm, definitely a doozy,” Public Safety Manager Tom Cashion, who was on scene during the storm, said Monday. “We’ll evaluate today and throughout this week to see how it all turned out.”

Judy Huse, who lives in Entry 11 of Canyonwood Court, said that around 4 p.m. Sunday, she and neighbors noticed water accumulating rapidly on their front patios as a result of drains being clogged with leaves. They reported the situation to Public Safety, and eventually a truck responded with a sump pump.

“The water began to recede slowly when the pump arrived — a good thing because it came within a fraction of an inch of seeping under my front door,” she said.

Donner said “there were too many ground drain floods to even mention. When the creek fills up, there’s nowhere for it to go.”

Pettibone said one of his neighbors on Rossmoor Parkway suspected that water was leaking into his attic and had headed to MOD for assistance. For the most part, though, he and his neighbors seemed to have come away unscathed.

A fallen stone pine tree on Creekside Golf Course.

He and others reported losing their internet service from about 2:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Comcast TV was also out, though some reported being able to continue watching the same channel that had been on when the internet outage occurred.

With the sun finally emerging Monday morning, the pools of water that had poured through the street leading to Pettibone’s manor were quickly vanishing.

“When I came out at 6 or 6:30 this morning, this (road) was solid water,” he said.

Staff writer Cathy Tallyn and managing editor Ann Peterson contributed to this story.