H-CENTRAL COAST

Dec 17, 2010 10:25 PM by Ariel Wesler

Locals gear up for stormy weather

Just after 4 a.m., winds reaching speeds of up to 25 miles per hour toppled this canopy at a 76 gas station in Orcutt on the corner of Clark Avenue and Bradley Road.

"If it had been a half hour later, somebody could have been injured and mamed. There would have been cars right there," said Don Munoz, an employee and former owner of the gas station.

Munoz owned it from 1962 until 2007. He now works there and says strong winds weren't the only culprit.

"The big pipe that holds the thing rusted out. It's been there for 45 years or so," Munoz said.

Santa Maria turned into a windy wonderland. Howling winds flooded the gutters with leaves and blew down Christmas decorations.

Local stores are also taking precautions.

"Just buttoning everything down. It's supposed to be pretty windy and a lot of rain," said Andy McFarland who works at Farm Supply Company in Santa Maria.

He says people have been coming in to the store all week to prepare.

"Sandbags are flying out of here, all kinds of erosion control products," McFarland said.

But if you don't want to buy sandbags, Santa Barbara County Public Works off Foster Road hands them out for free--limit 20 per person.

I'm filling them up. I'm gonna go protect my garage, said Paul Chappel of Orcutt.

For many, it's an important annual tradition to weather whatever mother nature blows their way.

"You gotta be prepared. Sometimes, it can be life or death," McFarland said.

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