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Fallen trees, power outages in Citrus Heights amid series of winter storms

A downed tree at Sylvan Cemetery shut down Auburn Boulevard Tuesday morning. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
A series of winter storms have taken their toll on Citrus Heights with widespread reports of fallen trees and power outages in the first weeks of 2023.

The latest storm to hit the city resulted in a large tree at Sylvan Cemetery falling across Auburn Boulevard, blocking lanes, according to a police statement released just before 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 10. Both northbound and southbound traffic was diverted until crews cleared the debris, according to the release.

All lanes of Auburn Boulevard were reopened by 9 a.m. according to a followup report by police.

Cemetery General Manager Cyndi Price told The Sentinel in a phone call Tuesday that the uprooted Cedar tree displaced one memorial marker, but was undamaged. She expects the memorial will be placed back in its original location once crews finish removing debris.

The tree also damaged a stone wall and iron fence along Auburn Boulevard, with employees working to remove the damaged sections Tuesday morning.

Price reassured the families of loved ones buried at the cemetery that the damage did not extend to nearby graves.

“Let them rest assured their loved ones are safe,” Price said. “They’re where they should be, they’re resting safe.”

Overall, the cemetery saw three trees come down in the most recent storm, Price said.

A large tree also caused damage to Birdcage Village apartments, according to a resident who shared photos with The Sentinel showing a large tree fell onto a car port, collapsing the structure onto what appeared to be at least two vehicles.

The tree blocked an exit route until about 6 p.m. Sunday when another resident reportedly used their chainsaw to clear branches. No one was injured, but at least one vehicle was “crushed,” the resident said.

A Birdcage Village employee told a Sentinel reporter during a visit Monday the office had no comment. Multiple phone calls and an email to Birdcage Village owner, Stockton-based Conference Claimants Endowment Board, were not returned by press time Tuesday.

Another tree fell across Van Maren Lane near Chapel View Lane over the weekend, blocking all lanes. A crew with Tree J Arbor was working to clear debris at the scene Monday. The Newcastle-based business owner, who did not want to be identified, said the homeowner’s association contracts with him to maintain the property. He said job load has been “off the hook” as a result of the recent storms.

City crews worked to clear the roadway and reopen Van Maren Lane before his crew came to cleanup what was left on private property, he said.

Portions of a tree that fell over the weekend can be seen on Van Maren Lane near Chapel View Lane. // M. Hazlip

The popular Black Angus restaurant, a fixture along Greenback Lane for decades, was damaged when a large tree fell, striking the corner of the building. A sign posted on the door of the restaurant said the business will be closed due to storm damage.

An employee at the restaurant referred all questions to Black Angus corporate office. A voicemail left with their Los Angeles based office was not immediately returned by press time Tuesday.

Meghan Huber, the city’s economic development and community engagement director, said this year’s winter storms have kept crews busy throughout the city.

“City crews have been working around the clock to clean up from recent storms, and our public works, IT, and Police Department staff are collaborating to ensure rapid response to issues,” Huber said. She said damage to power and communications from winds and downed trees “have been the most concerning.”

With impacts from the storm still being cleared up and more rain in the forecast, Huber advised motorists “if you must travel, take care to slow down and be safe.”

According to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s online outage map, more than 45,000 customers in Citrus Heights lost power around 1 a.m. Sunday morning. While some residents have reported being without power for more than 48 hours, the total number of customers in Citrus Heights without electricity had dropped to less than 100 as of Tuesday afternoon, as SMUD reports crews are working “around the clock” to restore power.

Grand Oaks Elementary was also among two schools in the San Juan Unified School District that remained closed on Tuesday, due to outages. The district said all other schools in Citrus Heights were open, although crews worked Monday to clean up storm debris and damage at various schools.

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