Old eucalyptus tree falls on Santa Barbara County Foodbank damaging generator and office

Old eucalyptus tree falls on Santa Barbara County Foodbank damaging generator and office

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A eucalyptus tree fell on the Santa Barbara County Foodbank building Wednesday morning, but staff said no food was damaged.

Foodbank officials said they received a call from the building’s ground security early Wednesday morning saying that a tree had fallen on the building.

While the office spaces are entirely inaccessible from the damage, the areas where the food is stored were left unharmed, Judith Smith-Meyer, spokeswoman for the Foodbank, told News Channel 3-12.

Santa Barbara County Food Bank

Smith-Meyer said that, thankfully, there was no one in the building when the tree fell so no one was injured.

Warehouse manager Jesus Lopez feels the same way.

“The good thing is that we didn’t have any employees in the building, so that was a good thing. And everybody’s safe,” said Lopez, “One of the major things that we lost was our generator, our backup generator. Corner of our offices took a major damage upstairs. Good thing is nothing got damaged on the food side. So we’re still able to go out and take the food out to the community. So that’s a plus.”

They are now hearing that insurance may not cover the $50,000 cost of replacing the backup generator.

Coverage may depend on the health of the tree or whether the policy covers damage caused by an act of mother nature.

SB Tree Care crews cut down the tree and put caution tape around the area where its roots came out of the ground.

Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin said the Foodbank is here for the community during disasters even when it has disaster of its own.

“I’m really glad that we’re gonna have the opportunity to build a new warehouse, which is going to be further up Hollister Ave. sometime next year, so we’ll be letting the community know about that, but first we certainly need this place fixed up first.”

The Foodbank will not have to pause any services because it can still do food pick ups and drop offs from the building.

They believe the old building used to be a fire station.

For six hours they had to turn off power to allow Santa Barbara Tree Care crews to cut down the tree safely.

SB Tree Care co-owner Chris Willingham said, “It hit everything in its path, that is for sure, the generator, it hit the corner of the building, the power so it was kind of a tricky removal.”

He said people are welcome to the wood that is now sitting in the parking lot.

That temporary power outage impacted the Foodbank’s cooler/ freezer area that is used to store fresh produce and dairy and other items that need to stay cool.

Foodbank workers moved items out to cooling trucks and sent food to distributions centers.

It is not yet known how long it would take or how much it would cost to fix the damage.

Anyone wishing to donate may visit http://foodbankcbs.org