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Southern California gets ready for damaging storm

December 11, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Strong gales and sheets of rain that knocked out electricity, flooded freeways and toppled trees in Northern California churned Thursday to the slide-prone southern part of the state bracing for its own beating.

Strong winds felled a tree in neighboring Oregon state, killing a 40-year-old homeless man who was sleeping on a trail.

Los Angeles should expect rain by the end of the day. Already, one apartment complex in a spot prone to mudslides was evacuated. In the San Bernardino National Forest, lumber workers were loading concrete weights onto the stacks to keep them from blowing away, and piling sandbags in front of their shop doors to stave off floodwater.

The San Bernardino Mountains have been razed by wildfires and were already doused by a storm last week, making them particularly vulnerable to mud flows.

Throughout the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, waves slammed onto waterfronts, ferries were bound to their docks, some airplanes were grounded and many schools canceled classes.

Gusting winds had motorists tightly gripping their steering wheels on the Golden Gate Bridge, where managers created a buffer zone to prevent head-on collisions by swerving cars.

The iconic suspension bridge is engineered to swing in cross winds, and engineers were standing by, but “the concern we have right now is more about vehicles,” spokeswoman Priya David Clemens said.

A school child was trapped for about 15 minutes when an 80-foot (24-meter) tree fell on him in Santa Cruz. Rescuers with chain saws freed his arm and he was taken to a hospital in good condition.

Crews worked throughout the day to restore power to as many as nearly a quarter-million people in Northern California.

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Mendoza reported from Santa Cruz, California. Associated Press writers Kristin J. Bender and Sudhin Thanawala in San Francisco; Lisa Leff in Berkeley; John Antczak in Los Angeles; Scott Smith in Fresno; Alina Hartounian in Phoenix; and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed.

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