Bustamante, who has worked as a gas station attendant for 16 years at the USA gas station near the intersection of Imperial and Scott avenues in El Centro, said she had just finished changing the prices on the station’s sign when an employee from the nearby Pep Boys told her that the station’s flagpole had fallen onto Frontage Road.
“We’re so lucky there was no accident,” she said, shortly after a small crew from the El Centro Public Works Department pulled the flagpole off the road.
Henry Cornejo, an equipment operator who helped clear the road, said the flagpole “peeled right out of the flange.”
The pole, one of the largest in El Centro, was known as the place where a homeless resident dubbed the “Rainbow Man” would sing and salute the flag every evening at sundown.
The National Weather Service issued three weather advisories Monday for Imperial County, all related to the wind.
A red flag warning was in effect from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the combination of low relative humidity and high fire danger.
A hazardous weather outlook was in effect for parts of Arizona and southeast California, including Imperial County, for reduced visibility due to blowing dust.
And, a wind advisory was set for sustained, high winds with gusts between 40 and 58 miles per hour.
Cornejo, the equipment operator, said he had a busy morning, and more Public Works employees were on standby.
Just in El Centro, six large trees had blown over by 1 p.m., he said. They were pretty old, he said.
A tree near the corner of Sandalwood Drive and Sixth Street damaged the window of a vehicle when it fell, he said.
A large branch tore off a tree near the corner of Main and Sixth streets shortly before 10 a.m. No injuries were reported.
A tree fell near Tangerine Avenue and Eighth Street.
Another tree fell onto a house on the corner of Magnolia Avenue and North Fourth Street. There was no damage to the interior of the house, its resident said.
Winds pushed over a tree that has stood for decades on the corner of Orange and Imperial avenues. It was pulled out of the ground more or less intact, and its roots stretched almost as high as the roof.
“The tree has been here since the 1950s,” said Anna Lopez. Her aunt lives in the house.
Power outages were reported all across Imperial County, from Brawley to as far as Winterhaven.