Cindy Hutchinson woke up briefly to what she thought was an earthquake at 3 a.m. on Thursday. Later that morning, she rose from bed to discover that a tree had crashed through the roof of her dining room in the Oakland Hills.
Five days later, the rain is still pouring through the gaping hole in the house she's lived in for 17 years.
All over the East Bay, fallen trees are a hazard for commuters, homeowners and pedestrians. Across California, trees knocked over during the recent storm number in the thousands.
Hutchinson and her immediate neighbors haven't had power for almost a week now. Still, she said she felt relatively lucky no one got hurt, as she stood in a large puddle of water and debris in her dining room on Monday.
East Bay Tree Service owner Victor Ghavamzadeh said the heavy rain last month followed by more heavy rain and high winds means trees are more prone to falling.
"I've been working since New Year's nonstop," Ghavamzadeh told The Standard.
Heavy rain and high winds are the primary reasons trees have been falling over. While some assume lots of rain can only be good for the ecosystem, Bay Area ecologist Tea Parker-Essig says too much rain can prevent tree roots from getting the oxygen they need, leading to poor health and falling over. More broadly, though, the physics is just not in their favor during a bad storm.
"Trees are enormously heavy above ground," Parker-Essig explained. "Given that we are on sloped terrain up here, roots can only handle these conditions for so long."
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