An iconic, historic barn was destroyed by high winds Wednesday, Jan. 20, among dozens of structures damaged during the week of storms. The barn—which had long been visible from the intersection of highways 1 and 46— “is a total loss,” said rancher John Taylor. He bemoaned the fate of the building “I’ve been looking at my entire life” and that residents and visitors alike have viewed as a rural landmark.
Taylor said the barn was built in the 1890s by his forefathers.
Wind gusts of more than 60 mph “toppled the barn toward the north side,” he said, “ripping the roof off and throwing parts of it down by the highway. A 2-foot-by-20-foot piece of tin was being blown like a feather in the wind.”
Taylor estimated reconstruction would cost up to $50,000.
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The highest recorded local wind speed during the storms was 48 mph, but estimated gusts, especially in the Santa Lucias, were higher. Hearst Castle halted its tours for four days to protect public safety. Thunderstorms there “were almost like an earthquake,” spokesman Dan Eller said, and wind gusts
topped 60 mph.
Up to 6,000 Pacific Gas& Electric customers — including in West Village, San Simeon and at the Castle— were without power for most of Wednesday or longer, due to a transmission-line problem that was likely storm caused, according to a spokesperson. Some PG&E customers were without electricity for three days.
The outages caused most West Village businesses and buildings to close, and triggered a rush on those East Village restaurants that stayed open.
Helpers volunteered throughout the storm. Members of the Community Emergency Response Team set up their generator to power critical medical equipment during the power outage. Retired firefighters donated time to man a central command post at the Cambria Fire Department station. Cal Fire crews and a South Bay Fire Department unit worked with the Cambria Fire crews during the height of the storm.
County road crew chiefs and PG&E also dispatched out of the fire station, taking calls directly from central command. An inmate crew spent hours filling sandbags with about $800 of sand donated by Tim Winsor of Winsor Construction.
“It ran really well,” said Fire Chief Mark Miller. “I’m really happy with the system.”
While there’s no firm tally of calls, those parceling out the work estimated crews handled more than six dozen emergencies on Wednesday, Jan. 20.
As utility crews continue to track down trouble spots and do repairs, inspectors from PG&E contractor Davey Tree Service are surveying prospective trouble spots and scheduling work on trees that could land on electrical wires.
Officials say they’re grateful nobody was seriously injured when so many trees with soggy roots were blown over by gusting winds.
“At least everybody’s healthy,” rancher Taylor said. “Praise the Lord for that much.”