Police / Fire

Wind storm wreaks havoc

Blustery conditions cause power outages, gas leaks, downed trees, structure fire; force local school closures
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Ferocious winds Friday morning caused thousands of San Benito County residents to lose power as trees, fences and power lines fell, forcing local first responders, utility crews and city workers to bounce from incident to incident.

Most local schools, including San Benito and Anzar High Schools were closed as the winds continued through much of the morning. A makeshift storm incident command center was set up at Hollister City Hall, where law enforcement officials coordinated their responses as dozens of reports of downed lines spread resources thin.

Crews also responded to a structure fire on Prescott Lane as PG and E crews deployed throughout the county to fix downed power lines and work to restore power.

The Hollister Public Works Department said it had 25 crews out working "to systematically clear blocked roadways and remedy hazardous situations."

In a statement released on Nixle, the Hollister Police Department said "We are asking everyone to stay calm, have patience, drive with care and be aware of first responder crews that are working to clear up the storm debris."

Around 11:30 a.m., HPD offered the following update on storm-related incidents:

Road is closed on Line Street between Apricot and Steinbeck, due to a power pole, we urge the community to please avoid the area.

Schools Closed: 1. San Benito High School 2. R.O. Hardin 3. Early Development. City crews are out working clearing debris on the roadway, please use extreme caution, and be prepared as normal routes may not be available.

Currently no active gas incidents in town.

Current Roads Closed/Crew activity possible:
1. Beverly/Glarner
2. Clearview/Sunnyslope
3. San Benito Street/Hawkins near 7/11
4. Sally Street is closed
5. 1400 Block of Diablo
6. 1400 Block of Gabilan Drive
7. 1300 Block of Ramona Street
8. 1800 Block of Highland Drive
9. Meza and Scenic Circle
10. 300 Block of Panarama
11. C Street

Roads Cleared
1. Westside Boulevard
2. Homestead
3. Santa Ana
4. Valley View
5. 3 from Ladd Lane

Traffic Signals Out: 1
Hillcrest and McCray has become a 4-way stop. Memorial and Sunnyslope Rd. Outside tree removal services will be arriving soon to assist city crews. Currently there are 46 reported cases of trees down, with 3 confirmed blocking the roadway. City crews are working throughout the city, please use caution and plan for delays. Again, the road is closed on Line Street between Apricot and Steinbeck, due to a power pole, we urge the community to please avoid the area.

Just before 1 p.m. Friday, it was announced that the incident command center was closing.

By that time, the city of Hollister had logged approximately 65 trees down due to high local wind gusts and sustained winds. Sixteen trees were confirmed to have been blocking roadways but had been cleared by the early afternoon. There were also four separate gas leak reports at different locations throughout Hollister. All were investigated and deemed safe.

The City of Hollister Public Works Department will continue to work with all available crews to clear downed trees, debris and assisting with general life safety issues until all hazards have been mitigated, the announcement said.

Hollister Police and the Hollister Fire Department will remain at increased staffing levels until the weather event has passed.

Those needing assistance from Hollister Public Works for weather-related issues can call (831) 636-4377. 

Adam Breen

Adam Breen has been a San Benito County resident since 1980 and graduated from Sacred Heart School and San Benito High School before earning a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. A father of two sons, Adam has taught newspaper, English and yearbook at SBHS for the past decade, after six years as a magazine editor for Santa Clara University. He previously was editor of the Hollister Free Lance and content director for BenitoLink.