The damage done to the makeshift structure during last week's extreme winds. Credit: Amir Aziz

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Since November, Dalia “La Pantera” Gomez has run a youth boxing and fitness program out of a large tent set up on the tennis courts in San Antonio Park. Last Tuesday, Gomez went by the park to check on the canopy structure after a night of extreme winds that knocked out trees in the Oakland hills and ravaged homeless encampments. She found the tent’s canopy damaged and blown off its frame.

Fortunately, Gomez told The Oaklandside, none of her fitness equipment—worth roughly $8,000—had been blown away or stolen.

She posted a callout on social media seeking volunteers to help her clean up and fix the canopy structure. Help from the community poured in. Gomez had to purchase new metal pipes for the tent frame because several were bent. She also tried to add reinforcements to the bottom of the tent’s sides using lumber. The repairs cost $400.

This week the tent was damaged again as winds and rain ripped the canopy off its frame. 

“Is this not meant to be?” Gomez said in a video. “I’m so overwhelmed.”

This time around, the canopy’s ceiling remained intact, but the wooden reinforcements added the previous week didn’t work and the sides of the tent were ripped open. 

The Bay Area is expected to be hit by another winter storm starting tonight. Heavy rain is expected through next Tuesday. Gomez is worried that further repairs won’t hold up.

“If the rain was to damage the boxing bags, that’s it. They will get moldy and cannot be used anymore,” she said. Her punching bags were an investment of $150 to $350 each. 

Gomez said she plans to chime in during this week’s meetings to discuss San Antonio Park’s future. Currently, she said she’s looking for a short-term solution. “I would like to find an empty building or facility where I can keep my equipment,” she said. “Longterm, I would love to build a park pavilion at the park,” said Gomez, referring to a permanent roof structure with open sides under which people can gather.

“If you build a pavilion, it will cost roughly around $25,000, and we can operate underneath it,” she said.

Gomez is encouraging neighbors around San Antonio Park to attend the upcoming virtual meetings. The first one takes place this Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 4:30 p.m. You can find the information on how to virtually participate in the meetings here.

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Azucena Rasilla is an East Oakland native, a bilingual journalist reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.