Sights and sounds of storm smacking Sacramento, dropping trees, killing power, flooding roads
Thousands of homes and businesses in the Sacramento area were still without power Monday afternoon after an intense storm pummeled the capital region this weekend.
One school was closed due to the power outage – Abraham Lincoln Elementary in the far eastern portion of the Sacramento City Unified School District, officials reported on Twitter. All other Sacramento City Unified schools were open, the district said.
High wind gusts, heavy rain and downed trees had knocked out power for a time Sunday to more than 125,000 homes and businesses. By 11:15 p.m., many customers had their power restored, leaving about 30,000 SMUD and 2,000 PG&E customers still in the dark.
SMUD reported more than 180 outages throughout the Sacramento area, with the majority of customers left without power in Arden, Carmichael and Rancho Cordova.
Because there are multiple outages, SMUD spokeswoman Lindsay VanLaningham said Monday morning that estimating when everyone’s power will be back on is difficult. But she said all of SMUD’S crews were out working as quickly and safely as possible to get power back up and running.
Heavy rain had also caused several major roadways to flood Sunday, according to the California Highway Patrol: Highway 99 flooded in Galt, Highway 16 in Woodland flooded, and southbound lanes of Interstate 5 flooded in downtown Sacramento.
CHP logs showed dozens of reports of hazardous road blocks – mostly tree branches – Sunday night.
The storm also caused a brief headache for fire dispatchers when a communication link between the region’s primary emergency 911 systems was unable to relay data to the Sacramento Regional Fire/EMS Communication Center in Rancho Cordova, said Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department spokesman Capt. Chris Vestal.
The center, which handles and routes all fire and medical-related emergency calls for first responders in the county, was unable to receive data and telephone transfers from the area’s primary emergency dispatchers – the Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, he said.
Emergency services for the public, such as 911, were unaffected, Vestal said, as dispatchers were able to relay calls for service through backup systems. Sacramento Fire Department spokesman Capt. Keith Wade said operations were normal even with the secondary system in place.
The Elk Grove Police Department’s dispatchers also had a problem during the storm but of a different sort: too many calls.
The department’s communication center received 265 calls in a two-hour span, prompting the department to call in extra dispatchers to assist with answering the phones, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.
“Our dispatchers entered 80 calls for service (we received many calls about the same things), including 6 collisions and numerous calls about power lines sparking and trees down across roadways,” the post said. “Due to the high volume of calls, additional dispatchers had to be called in to assist.”
Police spokesman Officer Jason Jimenez said that the number of calls were closer to what the department receives on a typical Fourth of July.
“Obviously, last night’s storm was a little different then a typical storm,” Jimenez said, adding that most of the calls were storm-related.
Jimenez said that both the department’s communication center and officers on the street were kept busy for much of the evening.