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Storm makes travel in Manteca precarious
Manteca SHARP volunteer Gina Peverini battles wind as she attempted to stop traffic at Yvonne and Louise avenues after the signal lights failed to function in the weather. Citizens had called police saying motorists on Louise Avenue were not stopping for cross traffic. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Wind and rain with all its fury blasted through Manteca and all the South County Wednesday morning causing commuter tie ups with accidents followed by a string of power outages.

It was about 7:30 when officers and firefighters responded to two accidents on Highway 99 – one near Austin Road and another by the Highway 120 interchange.  An 18-wheeler later had its rear trailer flip over on the transition ramp between Highway 120 and southbound Highway 99 blocking two lanes of traffic.

A signal light at the Louise and Yvonne avenues intersection failed creating a traffic problem when east and westbound motorists failed to make the automatic boulevard stop for cross traffic. A Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police volunteer officer attempted to alert motorists to the situation with a hand-held stop sign.  A large tree was reported down in a small park off of Ridgecrest Drive.

Shortly after 9 a.m. firefighters were called to the Walmart store on South Main Street after employees detected the smell of electrical wires burning and some smoke was seen in the facility.  Firemen said they found nothing, being told the lights had been flickering before they went off.  When they came back on, only every other light was burning, they said, unable to locate a source of the problem.  The company’s electrical service was directed to follow up on the cause.

At about the same time Manteca officers blocked off a section of South Main Street  in an effort to protect motorists  from flying corrugated sheet metal roofing that was flying off the roof of a warehouse in the 500 block just south of Wetmore Avenue.

Manteca canine officer Randy Chiek attempted to remove the sheeting that was blowing into the roadway as city crews arrived in several trucks to take control of the situation.

At about 9:15 Ripon’s downtown business district along with Ripon High and Ripon Elementary schools and the Ripon schools district office suffered a blackout that lasted some three hours.

Ripon Christian Schools reported flickering lights, but their power remained operational.  Colony Oak Elementary School lost its lights for a short period of time.  Lights had also been reported flickering at Bethany Convalescent Home on West Main Street.

Ripon students were in subdued light until about 12:25 with the high school students unable to go downtown haunts for lunch – there was nowhere for them to go.  The high school cafeteria also without power made cold cut sandwiches for the students.  The student store was opened for student patrons, but because the counter computer was non-operational, student clerks had to make change by hand – the old fashioned way.

Changing classes for the high school students was handled by each teacher who kept on eye on their wrist watches and told their students when they had to go to their next class.

PG&E crews had been working around the schools for a couple of hours when the electricity came back on with the ecstatic cheers of students and staff members alike.

The downtown Ripon closure included the shuttering of two banks – Bank of Stockton and Bank of the West.