An Estimated 2.5 Million People Will Be Without Power

All News KCBS Radio
October 09, 2019 - 11:39 am

AP Photo/Ben Margot


An estimated 2.5 million people will be without power by the end of the day Wednesday, as a part of PG&E's Public Safety Power Shutoff, and is expected to last up to five days.

Customers stockpiled food, batteries, ice and gasoline, creating shortages in some areas. 

A Shell station in Windsor had run out of some types of fuel as customers stockpiled gas before a planned power outage by PG&E on Oct. 9, 2019.
Jeffrey Schaub/KCBS Radio

The planned outage is working in two phases: the first phase started around midnight Wednesday, affecting Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Marin and Solano counties, leaving 110,000 customers without power, so far.

The second phase is set to start around noon on Wednesday: including Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. 

Contra Costa County Fire Spokesman Steve Hill told KCBS Radio that the wind strength and low humidity make for a dangerously high fire risk. 

The wind advisory is only in effect until Thursday and the Red Flag Fire Warning expires on Friday.

Turning the power back will not be simple, however. Every inch of line that was de-energized during the shutoff needs to be inspected to ensure that it's safe to conduct electricity again.

Napa, Sonoma, and Marin County Police Departments have added extra patrols to assist residents in safely navigating the outage. 

Many schools and universities have cancelled classes for Wednesday and Thursday. 

In Oakland's Montclair neighborhood, customers at the Lucky supermarket lined up at 6:00 a.m. to buy giant bags of ice and bottles of water. 

East Bay Municipal Utility District has encouraged the public to conserve what is in their pipes by turning off outside irrigation and watching their inside use. 

BART service should not be affected, as generators are set to help power equipment tunnel fans and other critical systems. 

Caltrans reports that both the Caldecott Tunnel in Oakland and the Tom Lantos Tunnel along Highway One on Devil's Slide will remain open. 

Traffic lights are not working in some areas. Drivers are reminded to treat such intersections as four-way stops until power is restored to the signals. 

Bryan May, a spokesman fir the State Operations Center for the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, told KCBS Radio that, "California is the most disaster-prone state in the nation," and that today's shutoff is a good reminder to have both a full tank of gas and cash on hand.  

In San Jose, Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness encouraged residents to check on their neighbors.

"We need to be compassion in action and make sure our seniors and those with medical devices are taken care of," Harkness said.

PG&E Resource Centers are set up all around the Bay Area to assist those in need of water, air conditioning, and charging stations for personal electronics or medical devices:

Cynthia Shaw, spokeswoman for The American Red Cross, recommended having a disaster kit on-hand with the following supplies:

  • Three gallons of water per person (for up to seven days)
  • Non-perishable food that requires little water to prepare
  • At least one flash light per room with spare batteries

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District has made a map of the outage areas available on their Twitter:

Matt Bigler, Holly Quan and Jeffrey Schaub contributed reporting to this article.