Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) Emergency Operations Center and hundreds of crews continue assessing damage, making needed repairs and restoring power in the aftermath of a major atmospheric river storm that delivered damaging winds, record rain totals, flooding and debris flows over the course of the weekend and Monday. The storm was one of the most potent to hit Northern and Central California in over a decade.
Since the storm began early Sunday, approximately 630,000 customers lost power which is about 10% of the utility’s 5.5 million electric customers.
As of 5 p.m. Monday evening, power has been restored to approximately 92% or 580,000 of those customers. Approximately 50,000 customers remain impacted.
PG&E continues to respond with approximately 3,000 electric and tree personnel on the job, including distribution and transmission line crews and troublemen and women, who are the utility industry’s first responders to an outage. Hundreds more employees are staffing the storm centers, performing safety duties, delivering needed equipment to PG&E yards and more.
While crews were pre-positioned to be in key locations in advance of the storm, they are now being moved and redeployed to the hardest areas of damage such as Sonoma, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties which were ground zero for much of the damage.
Mutual Aid assistance crews from San Diego Gas & Electric are expected to arrive Tuesday.
Record Rain and Wind
The record-breaking rain combined with strong winds produced the most storm-related impact seen in the PG&E territory in the month of October dating back to 2009. Downtown Sacramento at 5.44 inches broke a rainfall record that dated back to 1880. Blue Canyon received 10.4 inches of rainfall surpassing a record that dated back to 1964. Mount Tamalpais received 17 inches of rain. The strongest wind gust recorded was 92 mph in Alameda County. There were a number of other gusts that exceeded 70 mph across Santa Clara, Marin, Plumas, Contra Costa, Placer, San Mateo, Butte, and Napa counties.
PG&E’s stand is simple, that everyone and everything is safe. With that in mind, crews will continue to work overnight Monday and into the week until all customers are restored.
Keeping Customers Informed
While the storm has moved out of many areas, it is still impacting areas like Fresno, Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo.
PG&E knows how important it is to keep its customers informed. Customers can view real-time outage information on its website outage center and search by a specific address, by city or by county. This site has been updated to include in-language support for 16 languages.
Additionally, customers can sign up for outage notifications by text, email or phone. PG&E will inform customers about the cause of an outage, when crews are on their way, the estimated restoration time, and when power is restored.
Storm Safety Tips
- Never touch downed wires: If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 9-1-1 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
- Avoid floodwaters that could have down wires or electrical equipment in them. If a customer’s home or business is threatened by rising waters, turn off all gas appliances, or close gas appliance valves with a one-quarter turn. If you are unable to shut gas appliances off, turn your gas service off at the meter by using a wrench or other suitable tool to give the valve a one-quarter turn in either direction until it is perpendicular to the pipe. To shut off electricity, locate the main switch at the electric panel and turning the switch off. Never touch electrical equipment with wet hands or while standing in water. Once floodwaters recede, PG&E will restore gas and electric service to the community. When returning to their homes, customers should not attempt to turn on their gas or electricity. They should contact PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to request that their services be restored.
- Use generators safely: Customers with standby electric generators should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to customers, as well as crews working on power lines. If using portable generators, be sure they are in a well-ventilated area.
- Use flashlights, not candles: During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. And keep extra batteries on hand. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, animals, and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
- Have a backup phone: If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work, such as a cordless phone or answering machine, plan to have a standard telephone or cellular phone ready as a backup. Having a portable charging device helps to keep your cell phone running.
- Have fresh drinking water, ice: Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent foods from spoiling. Blue Ice from your picnic cooler also works well in the freezer.
- Secure outdoor furniture: Deck furniture, lightweight yard structures and decorative lawn items should be secured as they can be blown by high winds and damage overhead power lines and property.
- Turn off appliances: If you experience an outage, unplug, or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
- Safely clean up: After the storm has passed, be sure to safely clean up. Never touch downed wires and always call 8-1-1 or visit 811express.com at least two full business days before digging to have all underground utilities safely marked.
Other tips can be found at www.pge.com/beprepared.
PG&E, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.