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Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Claremont recovers from massive windstorm

David Hastings
Tremendous fallen tree on Claremont Boulevard.

Communities around the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains were ravaged by a severe windstorm on the night of January 21st bringing unprecedented damage to the surrounding infrastructure. The city underwent cleanup efforts in the following weeks, and the Claremont community came together to rebuild the “city of trees.” 

“We were expecting gusty winds from the weather report, so we did close our Wilderness Park thinking it’s just for fire risk,” said Bevin Handel, public information officer for Claremont. “We definitely did not expect winds in the excess of 70 to 80 miles an hour, and the amount of trees [fallen] we were not expecting.” 

The severity of the winds increased and sustained for hours, unlike anything Claremont had seen in years. The first calls of downed trees and power shortages came in around 9 pm that evening. 

The extent of the damage was surveyed in the morning after winds had calmed down. Fallen trees crushed cars, fell on buildings, and blocked off roads. The Claremont Village was practically shut down, as businesses kept their doors closed due to loss of power or the risk of commuting to work that morning. Historic eucalyptuses obstructed Claremont Blvd and other trees on Foothill Blvd and Briarcroft Rd. 

“I would say there are more than 300 trees that are going to need to be removed and 91 of those are just in parks alone,” Bevin said. “Unfortunately, some of those park trees and even some of the street trees are heritage trees that are over 100 years old. These are massive mature trees that have 10 feet diameters. They’re beautiful old trees, but we lost them.” 

The Claremont Colleges were also impacted as well. Similarly, they dealt with damage from trees and power outages. Another large eucalyptus that helped shade Marston Quad at Pomona College fell across the intersection of College Avenue and 4th street.  

Even with all of this the damage, it did not seem to affect Claremont community’s morale, as people were seen chatting and smiling as they took photos in front of the uprooted trees. Citizens also came together to help out with the cleanup however they could. 

On campus, Webb suffered damage as well, though not as significant due to a tree trimming project that was underdone in fall. Even still, there were multiple fallen trees on the premise, debris of leaves and branches littered across crossroads, and the dining hall and centennial tents crumbled into a wrangled mess of metal. 

“We lost a big tree branch right in front of the driveway,” said Dr. Brendan Beikmann, who lives on campus with his family. “It blew some other stuff around. But in general, we were unscathed. I mean, one tree that went down was also blocking the driveway.” 

Dr. Beikmann also has a unique volunteer role in Claremont that gave him some insight into the severity of the winds that night. 

“The damage in Claremont was bad enough that they deployed the Claremont Community Emergency Response Team, the CERT team,” Dr. Beikmann said. “We got a call about nine in the morning about people responding for it. I didn’t deploy this time just because of the stuff on campus.” 

“I’m assuming based off my knowledge of what they do is they were probably supplementing the police department and helping out with either traffic direction or blocking trees off that are down around the city,” Dr. Beikmann said.“They’re the force that goes in when the emergency forces need additional help with things that maybe aren’t at the level they can handle.  That’s first time that we’ve had a call out since I’ve started over which was four or five years ago.” 

Besides the trees, Webb didn’t suffer from too many major power outages, though many people in Claremont lost power through the night. 

“There were streetlights out and then power outages,” Ms. Handel said. “The first night there were 4000 people without power and slowly we put everybody back online”. 

Other surrounding communities also dealt with similar issues. Even still, the effect the winds had on Claremont seemed most notable because of the town of trees and PhDs. As a result, almost all the main southern California new stations came to Claremont to report. 

Day-students were affected by the power outages at their homes. The wind struck on Friday and didn’t really have an impact on their ability to complete their schoolwork on time. 

“I couldn’t play Fortnite because there was no electricity,” Leo Levitin-Shilman (‘23) said. “Power was out for four days, and I had to charge my phone in my dad’s car.” 

What is really most important in the aftermath is that no one was injured, and that we should not take for granted the great resources Webb used to bring us back to normal so quickly. 

“The big success story here is that there were no injuries and no fatalities, which is unbelievable,” Ms. Handel said. 

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About the Contributors
Oma Sukul
Oma Sukul, Editor of Photography
One hundred kilometers an hour. Blink, and you’ll miss it. Hesitate, and it’s too late. But for Oma Sukul (‘23), Editor of Photography, it’s just another day of volleyball. Her lightning-fast reflexes not only help her as a varsity player out on the court, but they also enable her to capture spontaneous moments that are featured on the front page. However, Oma also treasures the slower parts of life. If one were to visit her home in Rancho Cucamonga, she would likely be found indulging in romance stories alongside her cat Lucky or singing along to Niel Diamond with her dad. She cherishes her connections with her friends and family, and you can always count on her to be genuine, friendly, and delightful in conversation. Born in Toronto, Canada, her transcontinental family means that she has roots spanning the Pacific Ocean. Contributing to dozens of articles last year, this year Oma seeks to further explore her creative side. Rediscovering her passion for the WCC's quizzes, she continues her quest to make the publication engaging and entertaining for all. One thing’s certain: whatever life throws at her, whatever the speed, you can count on Oma Sukul to spike it back with a smile.   Favorite song: “I am... I said” by Neil Diamond 
David Hastings
David Hastings, Editor of Sports
Captain of the Webb football team, David Hastings (‘22) leads with distinction and serves as a suitable Editor of Sports. However, his interests stretch far beyond one activity; music also constitutes an integral part of his identity. David has rocked out instruments since he was young, initially playing the drums but later transitioning to the guitar; he now plays for his band “Orange Juice.” David also likes to hang out with friends in the Claremont Village or binge Netflix shows with a bucket of fudge brownie ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s on his lap. Unfortunately, he missed out on many social interactions because of the pandemic and looks forward to re-establishing broken social connectivity by learning and reporting individuals’ stories for the Webb Canyon Chronicle. Apart from contributing to the WCC as an athlete, musician, and editor, David strives to make every community member’s voice heard. Favorite song: "Bitter Sweet Symphony" by The Verve

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