Sports Equipment Shed Damaged By Fallen Tree

By Lulu Levy, Online Editor-in-Chief

//  An Oak Tree fell on the Acalanes High School sports equipment shed around 7:45 a.m. on Sept. 6, causing significant damage to the building. 

   A witness saw the large tree split in half before school Wednesday morning. One side of the tree fell into the shed, causing an estimated ten-foot hole in the roof, and the other went through the fence separating the school from the Lafayette Creek and into the creek itself.

   “[Someone who witnessed it] said she pulled up here at about 7:45 and parked by the dumpster. Said she got out of the car and she heard a noise, looked up, and saw the tree go. The thing actually fell in two when it fell, it split, almost like it was hit by lightning,” Campus Supervisor Andy McDonald said.

   The district Facilities Director, Tommy Rodriguez, is the lead coordinator for assessing the extent of the damage and organizing the repairs.

   “My job is to assess the damage and carry out the repairs from the damage that was caused by the tree. Also the building repairs, removal of the tree, and then I have to have an inspection of the building when the repairs are made to make sure that it’s safe to be utilized again,” Rodriguez said.

   Rodriguez explained that they were unaware of the cause of the tree falling and were not concerned about it collapsing before the event. 

    “It looked healthy from a visual, but not knowing what was going on from inside the trunk, you couldn’t tell unless you had somebody come out, maybe an arborist, to do an inspection on what was the cause of the tree falling,” Rodriguez said. “I have been talking to my tree service company and he says sometimes these Oak Trees get really old and heavy and they can explode. But that is just a guess.” 

   There are many factors to consider for removing the tree, including the section that fell into the creek.

   “[Half of the tree] took out the fence and landed in the creek. Tommy Rodgrequiz told me that he is going to have to call Fish and Game because of the creek life and all the wood we will have to remove from there. We don’t want to mess up the ecosystems in the creek, so he said that would be one of his first calls,” McDonald said. 

   Crews got to work right away to begin removing the tree, and Rodriguez estimates it will take over a week to remove all of the wood completely. The tree’s impact in the shed caused major constructional damage and will likely require a complete reconstruction.

   “My first step was I reached out to a tree service company. So I called them and they came out and accessed and started cutting parts of the tree away from the building to take some of the weight off of the roof so it doesn’t cause more damage,” Rodriguez said.

   All teams that practice on the track and field store equipment organized in various sections in the shed. The team’s equipment most impacted by the tree’s damage were boy’s and girl’s lacrosse and soccer. 

   “On one side is all the football stuff… The other side, which was damaged [had mainly] soccer, lacrosse, track and field [equipment], which was a lot of stuff. I think a lot of it can probably be salvaged, but there was quite a bit of damage to the stuff,” McDonald said.

   Athletes access the shed for supplies for their sports and acknowledge the need for the storage space to be repaired.

   “The shed has been an important part of the Acalanes Track and Field and Football programs. It provides much needed storage space which makes practices, games, and meets run much smoother. It sucks that the shed got broken, because a lot of athletes and coaches depend on it. I hope the shed can be fixed soon to help boost performance for Track and Field and Football,” Football and Track and Field athlete and senior Paul Kuhner said.

   The estimated cost of repairs has yet to be fully calculated as various insurance claims and companies will be involved in the reconstruction. However, the process is of great concern to administration as the Fall sports season is at a peak.

   “All the costs will be incurred by the district and insurance but our need to know is how long is it going to take, we need to be able to get in at some point and see how much of our equipment was damaged, and then at the very least we need to get in right away and get all of the football equipment out because we have games, we’re in season right now, so a lot of planning and a lot of phone calls,” Takahashi said.

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