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Storm System Blasts City
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The wet and windy weather that battered Riverbank for much of the past week reached a peak in a Thursday afternoon storm with powerful wind gusts and icy hail that whitened the streets and temporarily blocked the drains.

"There was .76 inches of rain in 24 hours, according to the instruments at the wastewater treatment plant," said Community Development Director J.D. Hightower. "And the wind gusted to more than 40 mph around 3 p.m."

But the field workers of his department, formerly known as Public Works, did yeoman service and prevented much serious damage from occurring.

"They performed above and beyond the call of duty," said Hightower. "They prevented a house being flooded on Kansas Avenue. They cleared fallen trees. They did a lot of work. They deserve our congratulations."

The rain was so heavy that the wastewater treatment plant came close to spilling about 5 p.m.

A large oak tree fell on Snedigar Road and another tree fell onto a fence at River Cove and Prestwick Avenue. Sand and bags were placed outside the High Street corporation yard gate for anybody who needed them.

When the hailstorm hit about 3:30 p.m., the hail was so thick it piled up on the ground and blocked the vents to the storm drains for a few minutes.

A couple of vehicles slid off an icy Highway 108 at the height of the hailstorm.

At the house on Kansas, the water crept up the driveway and entered the garage but didn't get into the house, Hightower said. Some homes on Terminal Avenue, where there was extensive flooding several years ago, were also reported threatened with flooding.

There was so much pressure in the main storm drains along Terminal Avenue, Oakdale and Patterson roads that the manhole covers were forced off.

City workers labored into the night until 8 p.m. to clean up the mess. Hightower, who was slated to work half a day, stayed until 3 p.m. and then left but stayed in touch with his foremen by telephone.

"The new drains performed well," said Administrative Assistant Luanne Bain at City Hall, referring to the infrastructure improvements put in with the downtown redevelopment.

"We still had a river coming down Third and Santa Fe streets but it didn't form a pool at the corner like it used to. Right outside our door, we could see it go into a spiral and drop down into the drains."

"We lost a few trees in Jacob Myers Park and I heard part of a hillside slipped. But there was no serious damage in the parks," added Parks and Recreation Supervisor Kerrie Webb.

The "hillside" appeared to be the bank above the river at the handicapped person's lookout spot, she noted.

The week's rain, however, cancelled at least one official event. The Riverbank Baseball and Softball Association's annual parade to Castleberg Park and opening games scheduled for Saturday morning were called off the day before due to the sodden condition of the ground. There were still standing pools of water at Castleberg on Friday.

While it continued to rain over the weekend, Monday morning dawned clear and sunny. Weather forecasters are predicting dry and warmer conditions this week with temperatures climbing into the 70s.