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Community Survives Violent Storm System
Crews had to shut down the intersection near Coley and Fourth on Friday, with tree limbs coming down and bringing some power lines along with it. Multiple locations had downed trees, limbs, wires and more, making for a very busy day for police, fire and Public Works personnel. Photo Courtesy Of WeEscalon

The latest storm system to blow through the region did not force any evacuations in the Escalon area, though there were some anxious moments a handful of miles to the west, in Manteca, with some evacuations there late Monday night, Feb. 20.

“Those evacuations were scaled back Tuesday morning,” said Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello, attending a county emergency services briefing in Stockton.

For local police, fire and City of Escalon Public Works crews, Friday, Feb. 17 was the busiest day of the last several, with multiple incidents reported. Rainfall continued throughout the weekend but it was the wind that wreaked some havoc on Friday. Round two of the storm system didn’t bring in the high winds that the first part did, noted Mello, so crews weren’t as busy over the weekend or on Monday.

“It’s been a long time since it has been that busy,” agreed Escalon Public Works Superintendent Juston Collins. “And we were actually down a few people; we had a couple on vacation days so it was just four of us out there.”

Police officers, fire personnel and the city crews worked in tandem throughout the day Friday, often coordinating with PG&E crews as well.

“We had some very big limbs that came down and took some PG&E lines down with it at Fourth and Coley and we actually had to close off that intersection for a few hours,” Collins explained. “The Police Department volunteers came in and helped out with that until PG&E could get a crew there.”

Police were busy with a rash of hazard reports, from broken railroad crossing arms to minor accidents to debris in the roadways.

“Friday was crazy,” echoed Mello. “We had 11 or 12 total calls that day alone. We also got called out to an almond hull fire at Van Allen and Lone Tree; it was in an open field, wasn’t a danger so we had to make the decision to leave it and come back and address problems here.”

The fire chief reported that throughout the community, there were downed tree limbs, trees coming down on businesses and residences, power outages, lines down and just a general sense of chaos due to the weather, leaving plenty to clean up in its wake.

Collins added that even with all the incidents on Friday, the worst day on the city’s streets was Monday, when the Public Works crews had to respond to several reports of minor street flooding. That was caused mainly by debris caught in the lines and Collins said they will be working to clear all that debris to keep the storm drains fully operational, in time for the next round of rain, expected for the weekend.

In Manteca on Monday night, a levee breach prompted limited evacuations in an area south of Woodward Avenue, west of Union Road to the San Joaquin River.

Mello said all departments remain on high alert, not only in Escalon, but throughout San Joaquin County, as the wintry weather continues. Information regarding current conditions is available by visiting the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services (OES) website. Those who need assistance or information about the storm situation can also call 2-1-1.

Tuesday brought more rain and a thunderstorm to the region. After receiving roughly an inch and a half of rain on Monday, forecasters are currently calling for another inch to fall over the period from Saturday, Feb. 25 through Monday, Feb. 27. Collins said Public Works personnel are also now ready for just about anything.

“It was crazy busy, we were just trying to keep up with everything,” he said of the storm response.