Archive for March, 2011

Major Storm Hits Sonoma County

Bohemian Highway at South end of Occidental

This morning I woke to an eerie silence after a night of howling wind and pounding rain.  Yes, it was pitch black – not even a little red LED was shining.  The power was out.  I first decided that I would just lie in bed and enjoy the quiet – get a few extra winks of sleep.  But, no –  my body was awake.  I pulled out my flashlight (yes, when you live in the country, a flashlight is right by the bed) and propped up on the extra pillow and started my crossword puzzle.  While this seemed like a good idea at the time, it is really hard to do a crossword puzzle in bed while holding a 6 inch Mini Maglite.  Next, I decided to browse the web on my Android phone to find the outage number for PG&E.  Considering that the temperature was 55 degrees and when the only light is a flashlight, it seems even colder, I was not keen on getting out of bed.  Unable to find the number for PG&E, I started texting people I thought might be up.  Finally, around 8:30, I decided that it was no longer too early to call people on the telephone.  Out came the old fashioned telephone (you know, the kind that is connected to the wall by a cord) and the dialing began.  The first person who answered was my landlord – I can always count on them.  They had called PG&E and the message was “anticipate an extended outage.”   What does that mean?  Definitely, it means that coffee from my own kitchen is not going to happen this morning.  No answer from my daughter.  Do they have an old fashioned phone?  No answer at friends in Forestville until I call on their cell.  Their comments were “no power”, “why get out of bed?”   I figure out that coffee is beyond Occidental or Forestville.  I left a message in Sebastopol.  I discovered that the heater works without electricity – duh!  By the time I was dressed, I had a return call from Sebastopol – the power is on – yeah!

Detritus on and along the side of Bittner Road

Deciding that I must face the world to get a hot drink, I opened my front door to find my torch stand blocking the way with the cover and candle lying nearby, my jade plant thrown from its pot and every light weight item from the porch scattered down the stairs and across the walkway.  I ventured out onto the road to discover debris everywhere.  Rounds of wood revealed that chainsaws had already been to work.  The roar of generators broke the early morning silence as seasoned residents began the post storm ritual of keeping the refrigerators humming and the wells pumping.  No area was spared.  From Joy Road to Occidental to Graton to Sebastopol to Santa Rosa – the carnage of redwoods, firs and oaks littered the roads and filled the roadside swales.  A large tree had taken out a streetlight pole on Sonoma Avenue in the middle of Santa Rosa.  PG&E is having a busy day.

Volunteer Fireman on Joy Road

A great thing about Sonoma County folks is that no little storm is going to get in the way of having a good time.  The Occidental Community Center was full (without power) of local residents celebrating the 30th birthday of Efren Carrillo, 5th District Supervisor.  It was a bit cool but the spirits were warm.

I am one of the lucky ones whose power was back on by dinner time.  At 8 pm Joy Road was still closed at Bodega Highway due to a downed power line.  I only know this because I had accepted a gracious offer of dinner in Bodega Bay.  I only had to detour through Occidental instead of traveling over Coleman Valley Road because Bohemian Highway had opened around 5.  How wonderful to experience the beauty of a sunset within hours of such a storm.  Thank you to all the county maintenance crews, PG&E, volunteer firemen and great citizens who have cleared our ways today.

Sunset from Bodega Harbour


March 2011


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