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City Survives Wild Storm

Riverbank appears to have dodged the bullet in a series of wet and windy storms that blasted Northern California over the weekend.

In a storm that reached its height here on Friday afternoon, trees toppled, fences fell, heavy rain and buffeting wind made driving dangerous and there were some isolated cases of flooding.

"But we survived it," said Assistant Public Works Director Jerry Meyer. "The worst part was Friday and Saturday. According to my rain gauge at home, we got about 2.25 inches of rain in that time."

Rain figures for Modesto showed 1.67 inches falling on Friday and another .60 inches on Saturday. By Monday the total for the month stood at 2.63 inches compared with a "normal month" of .35 inches. The season to date is now 6.31 inches compared with 4.71 for a normal season.

"A few trees fell in the parks, including that one in River Cove," Meyer added. "The downtown drained well. I'm glad we had some new catch basins tied in. It made a big difference. PG&E lost power to the Castleberg storm pump at one point but we brought in our own pumps and also got help from Ross Carroll (the contractor)."

There was some flooding by about 3 p.m. on Friday when a storm cell brought a downpour to the area.

One house at Jackson and Ward Avenue had flood water in the master bedroom, two businesses at the Callander and Patterson intersection had water lapping at their doors and a couple of houses in "the states streets" area had water creeping up to their garage doors, said City Manager Rich Holmer.

"We've done pretty good so far," said Meyer at 9 a.m. Friday, after the storm began with some gusty wind and rain on Thursday night. "Some garbage cans blown into the street. No trees down (at least not on public property) and no flooding. We've got crews ready waiting throughout town."

Public Works set out sand and bags at the corporation yard Thursday afternoon before the storm arrived. Some people came by to fill and take the yellow bags, including John Mitchell, who remarked, "I've got properties I have to protect."

By Friday morning the city had also placed a heap of sand and bags outside the corporation yard gate so it wouldn't need to keep the gate open over the weekend - there have been recent thefts in the yard.

Public Works brought their big vacuum truck to the Santa Fe and Third Street intersection on Thursday afternoon to clear a clogged storm drain. Officials remarked early rain sprinkles had washed sand and debris from roadwork into the pipe.

Some businesses in the downtown had sandbags at their doors on Friday morning as steady rain began.

Bob and Mary Carey reported a tree down in their back yard early Friday morning. Their house is located on Stanislaus Street between First and Second across from the Assembly of God Church.

"It fell during the night. I didn't hear anything," said Carey.

A Modesto ash about 45 years old and covered with ivy, it appeared to have snapped off at the roots and fell across a fence into a neighbor's yard, missing his house but blocking his driveway to an automobile shop, which it did not damage.

By that afternoon a Pacific Gas & Electric crew came out to cut the top of the tree away from electrical wires. Carey's son was standing by with a chainsaw to cut up the tree once PG&E had finished their work.

The first tree to block a street and call out Public Works crews also fell around 3 p.m. in the River Cove subdivision.

The tree, a foot or so thick, was growing in the front lawn on Scott Kamstra's property at 2524 River Cove Drive.

"I was outside, saw it about to go and called Public Works before it fell into the street," said Kamstra, standing in the rain with his young son. "Public Works was out there fast and did a good job of cutting it up and clearing the street."