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Cleanup from California windstorm could take months

December 3, 2011 |  8:18 am
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More than 120,000 homes remained without power early Saturday, three days after a powerful Santa Ana windstorm blew across Southern California, and officials said the recovery effort could take months.
Southern California Edison said some customers could remain without power through the weekend.

"We're being hampered by a lack of access," Edison spokesman David Song said. "We can't get up the streets to bring our trucks in and get elevated to the lines."

PHOTOS: Santa Ana winds | Submit your photos

Edison is reporting 96,000 customers without power, many in the San Gabriel Valley, according to Twitter feeds from the utility Saturday morning.

Song said that hundreds of crews are working around the clock to restore electricity. The company does not expect full restoration of service until Sunday at 8 p.m. The workers are not moving from neighborhood to neighborhood but rather have fanned out into all Edison territories, Song said.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is reporting that it has returned electricity to 189,000 customers, with an additional 24,000 customers still without power Saturday morning.

In Pasadena, one of communities hit hardest by the storm, City Manager Michael Beck said he expected that it will take weeks to remove all of the tree debris from streets.

Beck said it will take months to make all repairs, including replacing hundreds of trees.

"We have not yet assessed the dollar amount of the damage," Beck said. "I can tell you that virtually all of our field crews and contractors have been working around the clock on two shifts. ..."

The city condemned, or red-tagged, 45 residential units, including 40 in one Hudson Avenue apartment building, Beck said. In addition, 13 structures have been yellow-tagged, meaning residents can enter with some restrictions.

Also, the Sunset Reservoir will be drained and disinfected after it sustained damage, officials said.


Why did California's high winds fell so many trees?

Santa Ana winds: Gusts top 150 mph at Mammoth Mountain

Santa Ana winds: Rare weather system produced powerful gusts

-- Sam Quinones, Gale Holland and Adolfo Flores

Photo: A prison work crew cuts fallen trees on Eldora Road in Pasadena. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times