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Crashes, closures, flooding in Sonoma County due to rain

  • The Monte Rio home damaged by a fallen tree, shown Wednesday, March 14, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

Round One in what is expected to be a weeklong bout with rain went to the weather by unanimous vote, with downed trees, flooded roads, power failures and a series of highway crashes.

A stronger storm was forecast to launch Round Two in earnest late Friday, although intermittent showers will continue to soak the North Coast today, National Weather Service meteorologists said.

In Monte Rio, one home sustained significant damage Tuesday night when uprooted trees on Starrett Hill Drive fell across the road and onto two neighboring houses on Moscow Road, fire personnel said.

"I'm lucky I wasn't at home," said retired firefighter Mike Fauss, a Moscow Road resident who returned home late Tuesday to find three 150-foot-tall redwoods had crushed his A-frame house.

"The whole tree just caved the roof in. The tree was in the house," Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman said.

Fauss viewed the damage for the first time in daylight Wednesday after a sleepless night at a friend's house.

"I've been to a lot of fires where the people lose everything and they're on the street with nothing," said Fauss, who works in San Francisco. "At least with some time and a lot of work, I can rebound."

No was hurt next door either, though the residents of that house were home when the tree's branches landed on it, Baxman said.

The storm left more than 8,200 homes and businesses without power across the county. Power was restored for all but about 20 Healdsburg customers on Chalk Hill Road who lost power after a vehicle hit a utility pole, PG&E said. Crews expected to restore their power by 2 a.m. today.

An inch of rain fell in the 24 hours ending at 4 p.m. Wednesday in most parts of Sonoma County, with 1.35 inches measured in downtown Santa Rosa and 0.94 inches measured at the D Street bridge in Petaluma.

Higher elevations received similar amounts, including 0.92 inches at about 2,000 feet elevation near Hawkeye Ranch Road in Geyserville and 1.32 inches at 1,000 feet in Venado, west of Healdsburg.

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