Trees topple onto Union City condo complex; Residents evacuated

UNION CITY — Dozens of people were evacuated from their homes after a number of trees came down on multiple buildings in a condominium complex in Union City Tuesday, a day the Bay Area saw widespread damage from gale-force winds.

Four trees toppled onto homes on Starling Drive near Mann Avenue just before noon Tuesday, prompting the evacuation of the entire condo complex has been evacuated, 48 units in all. No one was hurt.

“While I was taking a picture of it, this one right across from me fell right onto the house. Big noise,” said resident Alex Chis. He’s lived across the street from the condos since 1980 and was one of the first people to call 911.

“The tree just fell down and then we got knocked on from the fire department and the police department to evacuate as soon as possible,” said Kayla Rivera, who added she’s planning to spend a few days with family in Livermore until she can get back home.

One evacuated resident who was home when the trees started to come down described it sounding like a bomb went off, shaking the entire house. Another said it felt like an earthquake as the trees fell.

Managers for the condo complex say by tomorrow, they should have all of the fallen trees cleared from the buildings, but they’re also going to cut down the remaining trees that are still standing because the risk of them falling as well is just too great.

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Experts say even healthy trees are at risk during storms like these. The ground is so saturated with water that strong wind gusts can knock over even a completely healthy tree.

The city and the Red Cross have set up a temporary shelter for any residents needing safety from the storm at the Ruggieri Senior Center. It will be open all night tonight and possibly longer if needed.

Downed trees and power lines were reported across Northern California as high winds from the latest atmospheric river storm added new problems to a region already impacted by the wet weather.

A high wind warning was in effect for the entire region from the North Bay to the Central Coast until 11 p.m. Tuesday. Wind gusts of 50 mph and above were being felt in the valleys and topping 70 mph along the coast and hills above 1,000 feet.