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Crashing Trees, Flooded Streets – Storm Hits El Cerrito, Kensington

The storm this morning, Sunday, felled trees and parts of trees, hitting several homes and blocking a key Kensington street for most of the day. It also cut power and caused flooding that sent water into several garages and at least one home.

The heavy rain and wind that pummeled the Bay Area this morning, Sunday, flooded several garages and knocked down trees and parts of trees that damaged local homes, blocked streets and cut power to many residents and businesses.

During an intense downpour about 8:15 a.m., a large tree fell across a key road connecting El Cerrito and Kensington, Sunset Drive in Kensington, knocking down live power wires and blocking the street for the rest of the day, said El Cerrito fire Capt. Rune Hoyer-Nielsen. (El Cerrito provides fire service for Kensington.)

About 10:30 a.m., another tree split down the middle with half falling onto a duplex home on the southwest corner at the busy intersection of Stockon Avenue and Richmond Street in El Cerrito. A resident said the roof appeared to have been damaged, though no water was leaking into the home. No one was injured.

Water gushing up through an access opening to a covered creek on Kearney Street flooded several garages in an apartment building and covered the sidewalk with mud.

A home on Purdue Avenue in Kensington was flooded, Hoyer-Nielsen said.

Severed large branches hit two homes and damaged a fence near Galvin Drive and Stockton, said El Cerrito police Sgt. David Wentworth. The stretch of Galvin between Stockton and Moeser Lane "looks like a twister went through," one resident said.

Another tree toppled onto Terrace Drive, taking out power lines and blocking the road near Contra Costa Drive, Hoyer-Nielsen said.

Resident John Stashik reported that southbound San Pablo Avenue at Barrett Avenue was blocked by a fallen tree.

A number of PG&E customers lost power in Kensington when the fallen tree on Sunset brought down power lines, and several businesses on Stockton in El Cerrito also lost electricity. The latter included 7-Eleven and Well Grounded Tea & Coffee, Wentworth said.

The El Cerrito Chinese Christian Church on Stockton near Richmond, which had a generator running outside the front door, had its power restored about 2 p.m., a church member said.

Residents of the duplex hit by the fallen tree section at Stockton and Richmond didn't realize at first what hit them.

"We thought it was an earthquake," said Gautam Gundiah, who lives with his wife in the half of the duplex that was struck. The tree tore off the outside awning above a bathroom window but didn't break the window.

Daren Pennington, who lives in the other half of the duplex with his wife and daughter, said he too at first thought an earthquake had struck. He also thought the damage must be serious when he came outside and saw the big tree section fallen into the structure.

"It's bad, but I thought it was a lot worse when I got here," he said.

In Kensington, Pat Jimenez, a teacher at El Cerrito High, said he wasn't able to move his car out of his driveway for several hours because it was blocked by fallen live wires knocked down by the tree that fell across Sunset.

On Kearney near Fairmount, one resident said the water in his garage on the east side of the street was four inches deep. Photos taken by another resident showed the water touching the base of buildings and above the underside of parked cars.

Another resident, 93-year-old Marvin Keith, threw his back out shoveling mud caused by the flooding, but he was able to walk outside to show Patch the heavy metal plate shoved up by the gusher of water that spewed a yard into the air from the swollen underground creek. (See attached photos.)

Wentworth said significant street flooding occurred also on Colusa and Carmel avenues from flooding of a creek at Sunset View Cemetery, on San Pablo Avenue and Carlson Boulevard at the entrance to El Cerrito Plaza, and on Carlson and Adams Street.

If you know of other storm impacts or have further details about the ones above, please add them to the comments. And you have photos or video, please feel welcome to add them by clicking the green "Upload Photos and Videos" icon below the photo section of this article.

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Kathy A. December 03, 2012 at 07:32 PM
They're taking out that broken tree at Stockton and Richmond -- best to take a detour right now. We just had an awful lot of water flowing off the hill and through the yard, Sunday morning; there is still some runoff. And the c0mc@$t internet was out for several hours. Local tip: Safeway near Del Norte station has wifi!
Charles Burress December 03, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Thanks for posting that video! (I'd heard that Peet's had gotten water inside, but when I called them in the afternoon, the afternoon crew said they didn't know about it.)
Toni Mayer December 03, 2012 at 11:03 PM
We were w/o power from about 7:45 yesterday morning until around 2PM. We'd invited friends for brunch and ended up meeting them at Cafe M in Berkeley instead. We'd had plans to be out most of the day anyway and noticed a lot of flood residue near the cemetery on the way home in the evening.
michael coan December 03, 2012 at 11:58 PM
The damage goes from Galvin near Stockton and across the street, through the backlot a bit up the hill, straight on to the large tree taken down on Contra Costa and Terrace. Seems like the path of a tornado.
Candace December 13, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Turns out I'm affected by the storm damage - which no one mentioned to me. I don't normally open my garage, and found out the night after the flooding that there was water in the rear passenger floorwell of my car (mine is the blue saturn in a couple of photos), which I've been drying ever since. Just tonight, Wed, 12/12, I opened the garage to find that water and mud had gone in up to 3/4 of the garage's length. My landlord didn't mention anything and from looking at the photos, I'm wondering if I can talk to the city about the damage? I can't even clean out the garage until this Friday.

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