The infamous Santa Ana winds, known for causing damage across Southern California, blew several panels of the new border wall being constructed onto the Mexican side of the border, according to officials.
The incident happened late Wednesday morning in Calexico, a small border city in Imperial County, Calif., about 120 miles east of San Diego.
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The steel bollard panels, which are 30 feet tall, had just been anchored in concrete that was not yet cured when the gusts knocked them into neighboring trees and onto a road. At the time, the National Weather Service said winds gusts were reported between 20 to 30 mph.
Ralph DeSio, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in San Diego, told Fox News on Thursday that high winds impacted a “handful of panels” under construction.
Newly installed panels from the US border wall in Calexico, California, fell over in high winds Wednesday, landing on trees on the Mexican side of the border.
“No property damage or injuries were sustained during this uncommon event while the concrete was drying, and construction remains ongoing,” DeSio told Fox News.
The construction in Calexico is part of a project to replace 11 miles of border barrier in the area, similar to the wall in San Diego, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Border Patrol Agent Carlos Pitones told the newspaper that Mexican authorities “responded quickly” and were able to divert traffic from the area after the panels fell.
“CBP will work with the construction contractor to mitigate the impact of high winds as construction continues,” Pitones told the Union-Tribune.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration marked the 100th mile of wall construction along the southern border, describing it as a “milestone achievement” and promising that there are many more miles to come by the end of the year.
The new stretch of border wall includes 14 miles of 18-foot, primary steel bollard fencing built in San Diego County as part of President Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border. It has a secondary 30-foot steel bollard barrier behind.
How effectively the new barrier deters migrants and crossings is tough to calculate. Its construction, however, coincided with a sharp decline in apprehensions. In August 2019, there were 3,326 apprehensions in the San Diego sector, down from 6,880 in March and 5,884 in May.
Earlier this month, Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said that since border wall construction began in San Diego, crossings are down 27 percent.
“The border wall system is imperative to securing the border and is what border patrol agents have asked for and need to maintain operational control of the southern border,” DeSio told Fox News on Thursday.
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A high wind warning has been extended through Friday morning across parts of Southern California due to strong winds out of the north and northeast.
“Potentially damaging wind gusts can be expected,” the NWS San Diego said Wednesday.