Community Story: PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff--The Aftermath
As of October 7, 2019 PG&E posted a notice warning a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) in several counties in Northern California. One of the shutoff areas is rural San Mateo County, meaning that our local Pescadero, Loma Mar, La Honda, and San Gregorio towns were included.
The power outage affected our local areas beginning on October 8, around 8pm and continued to be out until October 11 in the afternoon when the power was restored.
The PSPS was enacted in response to “high fire risk and weather conditions that include gusty winds,” PG&E announced. While there are no set criteria for why or when PG&E enacts this PSPS some determining factors can include: low humidity levels, forecasted winds above 25 mph, evidence of dry fuel on the ground, and Red-Flag Warnings that are declared by the National Weather Service.
While our community had to deal with multiple days without power, for many of us at most it was inconvenient, and never caused too many problems. With the lack of a timely notification from PG&E about the power shutoff, it was difficult for many community members to properly prepare as they would have been able if given sufficient notice.
Being able to find reliable power generators, ice to fill fridges and freezers, flashlights, and food that can be prepared without power proved difficult for many due to our level of isolation from the cities and lack of time to prepare for this event. Luckily, the brand new Loma Mar store served as a community hub during those few days, providing full meals and a way to bring the community together.
Unfortunately, this past week may not be the only time that we experience these types of power outages this year. PG&E has stated that they will continue to be turning the power off and on as seen as necessary to prevent possible fires. Because of this, it is a good idea to have the necessary supplies handy incase of another ill-informed power shut off.
For possible future reference, PG&E has recommended the following precautions to prepare for the power outage:
Have a personal safety plan in place for every member of your household (including pets).
Plan for any medical needs like medications that need to be refrigerated or devices that require power.
Build or restock your emergency supply kit, including food, water, flashlights, a radio, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
Identify backup charging methods for phones.
Learn how to manually open your garage door.
If you own a backup generator, ensure it is ready to safely operate.