By Andria Borba

HAYWARD (KPXI 5) — In Hayward, a repeatedly crashing PG&E site with outage info forced the city to staff a 24-hour telephone hotline to answer questions the utility should have been answering. Technicians also built a website to help residents prepare.

“It’s insane. To think in this day and age, to think that something like this is happening. I think they should’ve buried the lines years ago. We wouldn’t have this,” said Drena Huffman of Hayward.

The outages, the preparation and potential fires are driving up the price of business across the region and the state.

In Hayward, a repeatedly crashing Pacific Gas and Electric website with outage info forced the city to staff a 24-hour telephone hotline to answer questions that the utility should be.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, City of Hayward reps had already answered 2,800 calls about the potential outage. On top of that, Hayward GIS technicians built a website with outage data from PG&E so residents could find out if they were going to lose power — since the PG&E site crashed.

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All of that outage prep work is before the real emergency of potential wildfires in the tangle of power lines, trees, grass and homes in the Hayward hills.

The entire situation is putting a toll on city budgets.

“In an incident like this, we’ll call back firefighters to come back on overtime to help staff up and prepare for the emergency if needed,” said Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo.

The cost of the public safety power shutoff–between lost food, lost time at work, extra overtime and business closures–could be staggering according to Michael Wara, director of Stanford’s Climate and Public Policy program.

“Given the uncertainties and the models we think that 2.6 billion is a reasonable estimate for the impacts of this blackout if it lasts two days,” Wara told KPIX 5.