Fallen trees and debris removal hampers PG&E restoration efforts

Kensington, a community that sits a few miles from Berkeley, was hit by heavy wind in Tuesday's storm that took down trees and cut off power.

A huge fir came down on Sunset Drive, knocking down power lines and destroying the upper pole equipment.

Jan Berletti was baby sitting her grandson during the storm.

"We heard a loud noise. We were in the downstairs bedroom playing with Hot Wheels. It sounded like something brushing right up against the house, and it certainly was. It was a root ball," said Berlitti.

Resident Kirk Frye is an artist and a naturalist.


Bay Area storm kills at least 5, knocks out power, brings traffic to a stop

People were crushed to death by downed trees, scores of Pacific Gas & Electric customers were without power and major freeways and roads were closed Tuesday as the latest round of strong winds and rain battered California.

"These trees were all planted about 100 years ago for timber and firewood. They're not native to this area. They last about a hundred years more or less are about ending their serviceable life," said Frye.

Also working against them, bark beetle infestation and wind direction.

"All the trees, historically, have rooted themselves against the northwest winds which is the direction they normally come from. These new storms are coming from a different direction. The trees don't have much leg to support themselves, so they are more susceptible to falling," said Frye.

With 441 repairs in Kensington finished, the remaining 399 could take until Thursday.

"Crews are busy elsewhere with higher priority events," said Berletti.

Restoration work is prioritized around hazardous situations, critical facilities like hospitals, and the biggest outage areas.

Removing the fallen trees and debris isn't a big deal. But it has to be removed before PG&E crews – already stretched to the max, get to work.

"We've doubled the number of crews here in the Bay Area/ We expect north of 200 crews to be working on these outages in the Bay Area," said PG&E Bay Area Vice-President Aaron Johnson.

PG&E says no one is sitting around.

"I am incredibly proud of our crews. Fourteen storm since the storms started. Our folks work 16-hour days every day; 16 hours on and eight hours off. Then they're back at it the next day.  Some of our folks have worked more than 21 straight days," said Johnson.