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Rossmoor picks up pieces from latest storm

Power restored following Jan. 4 outages that impacted about half of Rossmoor

By Mike Wood, Ann Peterson and Sam Richards

Staff writers

(Friday, Jan. 6): About half of Rossmoor lost power the night of Jan. 4 as another brutal winter storm bore down, this time pairing high winds with the downpours that have become commonplace early in 2023.

The major storm brought a flood warning for most of the Bay Area. Shortly after 6:30 p.m., PG&E reported that 3,097 homes in Rossmoor had lost power. All the outages were weather-related, PG&E said.

Though most of Rossmoor’s power was restored about 1:24 a.m. Thursday, there still were approximately 269 manors without power on Cactus Court and Terra California Drive as of mid-morning, along with some homes on Ptarmigan Drive and Rossmoor Parkway. The Mutual Operations Department building was also without power, though a generator was in use to keep the busy Work Order Desk going.

Terra California Drive, Grey Eagle Drive, Horsemans Canyon Drive and Avenida Sevilla were among the many areas struck by the initial outage. The Creekside building and the Fitness Center also lost power.

After a major storm on New Year’s Eve walloped the community with 5.5 inches of rain over a 12-hour span, a few less-rainy days gave GRF and MOD the chance to prepare for the Jan. 4 storm. MOD Director Paul Donner said workers fared much better that night.

“The weekend storm washed down most of the brush and leaves from the hillsides that clogged the drains,” Donner said. “We had Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to clean that all up and get drains flowing again, so we didn’t see the flooding we had on Saturday.”

When the heavy rains hit Wednesday evening, workers drove around Rossmoor checking all the major drains for failures, Landscape Manager John Tawaststjerna said. “Most of our large drains held up with the storm,” he said.

Trust Maintenance Manager Martijn Lemmens said that as of late Thursday morning, he had not heard any reports of new notable damage from the evening storm.

High winds caused the most problems Wednesday night, as there were reports of gusts of up to 85 mph in certain parts of the Bay Area. Donner said six trees were lost in Rossmoor, and three of them fell on buildings, though there were no injuries and building damage was minor. Trees will continue to be a problem, with a system of storms anticipated to continue through mid-January soaking saturated ground.

MOD has had a five-person roofing crew and six to eight landscapers working 12- to 16-hour days to minimize damage, Donner said. Five Star Construction and Terra Landscape have also been called in to assist. Waraner Bros. Tree Service and Hamilton Tree Service have been on call and responding throughout the storms, Donner said.

“The MOD Work Order Desk and Securitas have been instrumental in taking calls and routing them to the proper service providers,” he added.

Residents who seized the opportunity to utilize sandbags helped prevent flooding, Donner said. GRF set up a sandbag station in a corner of the Fitness Center parking lot on Jan. 3. It was high demand, and at one point more than 1,000 sandbags had been filled over a 24-hour period.

Residents who see any problems on roadways, with landslides or localized flooding should call the Walnut Creek Police Department’s non-emergency number, 1-925-943-5844 (use 9-1-1 only for a life-threatening emergency. The city also is urging residents to register for emergency alerts issued from Walnut Creek by texting WCALERT to the text number 888-777.

Even in dreary conditions Wednesday morning, with the brunt of the storm a few hours away, Rossmoor’s sense of community was on display.

Residents loading sandbags expressed their gratitude for the efforts of Victoria Vasquez of Landscaping, who constantly shoveled sand into bags and helped keep the process organized. One resident even told her she should get a plaque in her honor for what she was doing.

Eleanor Vincent, who lives in a lower-level unit on Rossmoor Parkway, said that coming to get sandbags made her “feel like I am being prepared” in a world where weather has grown more extreme.

“We all have to deal with climate change,” she said. “This is going to keep happening.”

Vincent stressed that it’s vital to stay updated before conditions become dangerous.

“Everybody should be on Nixle,” she said. “Everybody should be getting updated weather alerts.”

Eileen Levin, who moved here in August, said she had not experienced weather this harsh since growing up with Chicago’s snowstorms.

“This afternoon is going to be nasty,” Levin said. With the Fitness Center in view as she loaded sandbags into her car, she lamented being off her normal routine.

“I would be at water aerobics right now, but I want to protect my home,” Levin said.

Keeping watch after experiencing storm problems is taxing. When the Dec. 31 storm hit, Mary Jean Odmark had water coming into her office at her Saklan Indian Drive home. Clearing of storm drains might have fixed that problem, and she saw no new leakage after the Jan. 4 storm hit, though she still had multiple fans running to dry that room. Waiting out these storms is tiring.

“It’s a hard way to live,” she said. “I’m having a hard time.”

Though she was among those who lost power that night, Odmark was thankful she could stay warm as rain kept pouring outside her home.

“We’re going to get through this,” Odmark said. “We need to carry on and remember what we have to be thankful for.”