Students evacuate Fremont Hall at Cal Poly after storms
Stormy conditions continued to batter the Central Coast on Saturday, as high winds and flooded roads caused headaches for residents, work crews and college students in San Luis Obispo County.
While Saturday’s weather didn’t yield the same volume of rain seen Thursday and Friday, the blustery conditions toppled trees and caused Cal Poly officials to evacuate one of the school’s dormitories.
Fremont Hall, a freshman dorm that houses 271 residents, was cleared out Saturday afternoon after the deluge of storms caused an adjacent hillside to become unstable, stoking fears that towering eucalyptus trees could collapse.
“The earth around them is starting to shift. Out of an abundance of caution, we’re evacuating the building,” said Keith Humphrey, Cal Poly’s vice president for Student Affairs. “Should they come down and hit the building, we don’t want anyone inside the building when that happens.”
As of late Saturday afternoon, there was no estimate as to how long the building would be empty, Humphrey said. Many of the dorm’s occupants were not on campus Saturday because of the three-day holiday weekend, he added.
Those who were evacuated were moved into temporary open housing elsewhere on campus, Humphrey said.
Humphrey said arborists were expected to examine and trim the trees Sunday if the stormy conditions dissipated. If the stormy weather persists, “it might be another day before” residents are allowed back in, he said.
Students seeking temporary housing should notify email@example.com, according to a statement from the university.
Student Nick Griesbach, who lives in Fremont Hall, said he received alert texts and emails from Cal Poly notifying him of the evacuation order.
“We already had our stuff packed for the most part,” Griesbach said. “It’s an inconvenience, but we’re all getting out safe, and that’s mainly what matters.”
Griesbach said he would be taken to Poly Canyon Village, where he’ll stay until he’s allowed back into Fremont Hall.
Cal Poly recorded 3.14 inches of rain Thursday through Saturday morning, according to PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey. It was one of more than 20 locations in San Luis Obipso County and northern Santa Barbara County that received more than 3 inches of rain over that period.
High winds also battered the area Saturday, with gusts as high as 72 mph recorded in Morro Bay, Lindsey said.
Lindsey is forecasting another front to arrive to the Central Coast on Sunday night after a partly cloudy but dry day, producing more gale-force winds of up to 46 mph and moderate rain in the amount of 1.5 to 2.5 inches.
At least seven roads in San Luis Obispo County remained closed as of Saturday afternoon, as crews worked quickly in an attempt to clear debris and fix downed power lines before more wet weather rolled in.
As of 6 p.m. Saturday, more than 6,000 customers were still without electricity in San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties as crews worked around the clock to restore service, Lindsey said. Most of those without power were in the South County, according to PG&E outage maps.
Laura Dickinson, Melissa Blanton and Gabby Ferreira contributed to this story.