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Southern California’s Santa Ana winds reach speeds of 70-80 mph

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The Santa Ana winds in Southern California reached unprecedented speeds of 70-80 mph, causing chaos and destruction across the region. A cold storm from the Great Basin unleashed these powerful winds early Thursday morning, toppling trees, knocking out power, and creating traffic disruptions.

In some areas of the San Gabriel Mountains and foothills, wind speeds exceeded 80 mph. Locations like Magic Mountain Truck Trail near Santa Clarita and Haven Avenue north of Rancho Cucamonga experienced gusts as high as 82 mph, according to Alex Tardy, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego.

North of the 118 Freeway in the northern San Fernando Valley, wind speeds reached 74 mph in Browns Canyon, while east of the Cajon Pass near the Cloudland Truck Trail, they hit 77 mph, as reported by the National Weather Service.

The impact of these strong winds was felt south of Yosemite National Park, near North Fork, where a wind gust of 95 mph was recorded. The National Weather Service warned that winds were expected to peak around 11 a.m. Thursday, with high wind warnings in place for Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties through late Thursday. The Sierra Nevada and Kern County would remain under a high wind warning through Friday morning.

Officials cautioned of winds ranging from 25 to 65 mph, with gusts up to 75 mph, capable of downing trees and power lines, causing property damage, and power outages. The warnings also highlighted the dangerous driving conditions, especially for high-profile vehicles and trailers.

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By early morning, reports of the wind’s destructive force began pouring in across the Southland. The Sierra Madre Police Department responded to multiple incidents of downed trees and power lines, while in Burbank, a large tree fell on a home without causing injuries. The Pasadena fire department worked to clear roads blocked by fallen trees, and in Fontana, a semi-truck was overturned on the 210 Freeway by the strong winds.

Southern California Edison was quick to respond to over 100 outages affecting more than 16,000 customers in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. The utility’s outage map showed the widespread impact of the Santa Ana winds.

The weather service issued warnings of gusts reaching up to 90 mph below and along the Cajon Pass slopes and in the coastal foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains in Orange County. Additionally, the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a windblown dust advisory for Riverside and San Bernardino counties, particularly in the Coachella and east San Bernardino valleys.

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Black couple overcomes racism to rent to Chinese family, who show gratitude by paying rent.

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Decades ago, in the early 1900s, racism and discriminatory housing practices plagued the town of Coronado, barring many individuals from living in certain neighborhoods based on their race. In the midst of this oppressive era, an inspiring story of resilience and generosity unfolded between two families — the Thompsons, a Black couple, and the Dongs, a Chinese family.

Gus and Emma Thompson, who were among the few Black families to own property in Coronado before racial restrictions took hold, defied the norms of the time by renting their house to the Dong family. Lloyd Dong Sr., a Chinese immigrant, and his wife found solace in the Thompsons’ willingness to offer them a place to call home despite the racist barriers they faced.

Fast forward 85 years later, the sons of Lloyd Dong Sr., Ron Dong, and Lloyd Dong Jr., have decided to pay forward the kindness shown to their family by donating $5 million from the sale of the house they eventually owned to San Diego State University’s Black Resource Center. This generous gift will help expand scholarships for Black students and fund renovations at the center, creating a lasting impact on the community.

Exterior view of a single-story home

The Dongs’ family house in Coronado, originally the home of the Thompsons.

(Courtesy of Janice Dong)

This heartwarming tale of intergenerational gratitude highlights the resilience and spirit of unity that transcends racial boundaries. Brandon Gamble, the director of the Black Resource Center, expressed the profound impact of this donation on the community, emphasizing the importance of stories that challenge racism and foster a sense of camaraderie.

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Reflecting on the legacy of his father and the Thompsons, Ron Dong shared, “That was the big plus for our family, because it has made all the difference for us.” The intertwined histories of the Thompson and Dong families serve as a testament to the power of empathy and solidarity in the face of adversity.

Gus Thompson’s journey from slavery to becoming a respected community leader in Coronado, coupled with Emma Thompson’s advocacy for civil rights, exemplifies the resilience and determination of marginalized communities to thrive in the face of oppression.

Gus Thompson in 1947.

Gus Thompson in 1947.

(Norman Baynard Collection / San Diego History Center)

The legacy of allyship and support exemplified by the Thompsons extends to their willingness to assist Asian Americans facing similar discriminatory practices. This act of solidarity echoes the sentiment that in times of oppression, helping others regardless of race is not just a gesture but a necessity.

As the Dong family embraced their new home in Coronado, overcoming discrimination and forging their path to homeownership, they carried forward the spirit of resilience and unity shown to them by the Thompsons. The bond between these two families serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration in a society marred with division and prejudice.

The Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian-style beach resort outside San Diego, and tent city on the beach, 1908.

The Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian-style beach resort outside San Diego, and a tent city on the beach, 1908.

(Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images)

The resilience and determination displayed by the Dong family in the face of discrimination, coupled with their unwavering commitment to education and community upliftment, exemplify the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. The decision to give back to the community through education underscores the transformative power of generosity and empathy in creating a more inclusive and equitable society.

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As the Dongs’ generous donation paves the way for future generations to access educational opportunities and resources, their story serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for all who strive to overcome adversity and champion unity in the face of division.

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