Severe wind and rain took Berkeley and the surrounding Bay Area by storm Tuesday, causing power outages, felling trees and damaging buildings in the area.
City staff had been working hard through Tuesday and Wednesday to address fallen trees and other calls for service due to the storm, according to city of Berkeley spokesperson Matthai Chakko. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 55 trees fell down, 19 of them involving some sort of wire, with nine reports of cars being struck.
Chakko added that it may take weeks to get everything fixed and cleaned up.
“Fire, Police, Parks, and Public Works staff have been responding to storm-related calls throughout the City since mid-afternoon on Tuesday, when high winds began to create damage throughout the City,” Chakko said in an email. “The primary issue has been downed trees, which have struck power lines, buildings, vehicles, and blocked traffic.”
Many students were affected by the storm Tuesday, with power outages impacting their studying.
Shrithika Logeswaran, a UC Berkeley junior, became one of these students when a tree fell on her building’s power line, causing a power outage. She noted that as it is currently “midterm season” on campus, her building’s power outage was hard to deal with.
“This power outage could not have come at a worse time,” Logeswaran said. “Our building didn’t have a generator but we should’ve had one or some way to deal with things like this — the power situation is just so unreliable.”
Logeswaran noted that since all her groceries went bad, she struggled to find dinner Tuesday night. Additionally, with midterms to study for and no power at home, Logeswaran spent Wednesday night in Moffitt Library on campus with reliable power only back on Thursday afternoon.
Power outages weren’t the only problems students faced, however. Campus sophomore Shreya Patel noted the scare she went through seeing a window shattered by the severe winds.
“I was walking home and … the wind had shattered the window and I saw it fall from I think the second or third floor,” Patel said. “It hit the floor and completely shattered all over the place, and it was just really scary.”
Patel added that while some students she knew were completely unaffected by Tuesday’s storm, others faced power outages and other problems with their buildings. She noted that her building in particular was unprepared for the severe weather.
Logeswaran alleged that Berkeley was unprepared for the storm’s effects.
“If the city sees windy and stormy weather conditions, they should be prepared for these kinds of situations,” Logeswaran said. “Students have campus and other friends here but families living in my apartment and other buildings have nowhere else to go.”
The city of Berkeley does have a procedure in place to prepare for severe storms. According to an off-agenda storm preparation memo, Berkeley has instructions for city staff, residents and businesses that are year round, right before storm season, right before a severe storm and during a severe storm.
According to the memo, before severe storms like Tuesday’s, city departments work to prevent flooding, identify trees at risk of damage and ensure after-hours staffing to address storm related requests.
“The City responded to over 125 storm-related calls on Tuesday alone,” Chakko said in an email. “Crews worked nonstop to deal with these extraordinary call volumes.”