If you were left in the dark over the weekend—or, as of 3pm today, were one of over 8,000 PG&E customers still without power—you were not alone. PG&E officials said in a press conference today that 450,000 customers have recently experienced an outage, 367,000 at the height of yesterday's atmospheric river.
The scripted press conference that took no questions was streamed over YouTube for 10 minutes. In it, PG&E officials offered some details about what the company has been dealing with over 13 successive winter storms in keeping customers' lights on.
One official called it an “extraordinary” winter with the highest rainfalls in California’s history and a snowpack that’s over 200 percent of average.
They said that as of today there are over 5,500 personnel in the field, who have “battled the elements even as their own families and hometowns are affected, sometimes as their families are being evacuated.”
In a Monterey County press briefing on Tuesday, local PG&E Senior Public Safety Specialist Stewart Roth said that as of that day there were 80 crews at work in the county. Roth says a crew can be anywhere from four to five workers. A heavy crew consists of 14 people and a task force can involve numerous workers with different specialities to make complicated repairs.
In the PG&E press conference, officials blamed the outages across Northern and Central California on trees in saturated soils toppling in high winds, including tornado-type winds in the Bay Area that reached 97mph.
The officials also stressed that they "won't take any shortcuts" on safety for its crews and the public, which may mean it will take longer to restore service in some cases.
PG&E officials said if anyone needs resources in an outage, or is concerned about a neighbor, they can call 211 for information.
For older residents, officials said they have partnered with the California Centers for Independent Living to offer to those eligible things like portable batteries, fuel gift cards and other assistance. To find out more visit disabilitydisasteraccess.org.
In the last few days the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau activated its list of hotels offering discounts to those evacuating flooding and in some cases will offer lower rates to those who have been without power for an extended period of time. That list can be found here. (Make sure to scroll up to the top.) Some hotels have also waived their pet policies.
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