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High winds: Evacuees head to shelter in Pasadena park

December 1, 2011 |  3:10 pm

Apartment building damaged in California windstorm.

An American Red Cross shelter at Robinson Park in Pasadena housed about 60 displaced people bused in early Thursday from an apartment building that flooded after a tree toppled by the high winds crashed through the roof, breaking a water main.

Most of those evacuated from the Hudson Garden Apartments on the 1200 block of North Hudson Avenue were elderly or disabled, many of them immigrants from Asia and Latin America who spoke little or no English. Thirty-seven stayed overnight.

Jose Alegria, 55, was bused in with his 70-year-old mother, Maria Henriques. Alegria said that sometime after midnight, he heard the tree fall, a noise so loud that he thought it was an explosion.

PHOTOS: Santa Ana winds | Submit your photos

He rushed from their second-floor apartment to the manager's office and saw water running from the ceiling and from the light fixtures.

The mother and son arrived at the Red Cross shelter with only the clothes on their backs, but were able to briefly return later in the morning to collect a few belongings.

"I was very scared, especially because of my mother," who was recently hospitalized after a heart attack, Alegria said in Spanish.

Sunny Vuong, 76, and his wife Yen, 70, were awakened by the building's alarm system. They weren't able to take anything with them when they fled. Vuong said he was worried because his children live in Idaho, and he had not been able to reach them.

The apartment building was red-tagged, meaning residents will not be able to return to their homes. The Red Cross will offer the evacuees relocation assistance, Red Cross spokesman Alex Mendoza said.

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Santa Ana winds: 42 buildings red-tagged in Pasadena

Santa Ana winds: Windstorm wreaks havoc on Christmas trees, plans

-- Ann M. Simmons

Photo: A fallen tree fell on an apartment building during high winds in Pasadena. Credit: Gene Blevins / Reuters.

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