BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — UC Berkeley officials announced early Thursday evening that classes would be cancelled for the third consecutive day on Friday in the wake of the PG&E power shutdown.
The UC Berkeley Twitter account posted about the class cancellation on Friday shortly before 6 p.m.
Classes CANCELLED on Friday
ALL Friday classes are canceled. All students and personnel should refrain from coming to main campus. Buildings on the main campus will remain locked. Stay tuned to https://t.co/UsJt9s6mW6 for updates.
— UC Berkeley (@UCBerkeley) October 11, 2019
Earlier Thursday during the second day of the PG&E power shutdown, the UC Berkeley campus took on a surreal, deserted atmosphere, like one of those movies where a plague wipes out most of humanity.
Luckily, Spencer Hill was one of the survivors.
“It definitely feels like the apocalypse,” Hill said. “Everyone was making that joke, that the world is ending.”
Hill used the quiet time to play a little Pokemon Go. Facing the possibility of a power outage, UC Berkeley cancelled classes Wednesday. And when the electricity was actually cut Thursday, all the buildings were locked up.
“They’re highly suggesting that we don’t come to campus today,” said undergrad student Alyssa Febre. “I don’t really need a suggestion for that!”
Meanwhile, research materials and specimens kept at 80 degrees below zero were trucked off to UCSF to maintain refrigeration. That prompted the release of a statement from Cal Vice Chancellor of Research, Randy Howard Katz.
The statement read, in part, “We are assessing the cost of lost research time, as well as other costs associated with running independently from PG&E and any lost or damaged experimental materials. We will seek compensation for those losses as appropriate.”
Up on the mountain peak overlooking campus, those with an unexpected day off took time to reflect on what this all means.
“Depending how much money we lose, it’s just another thing that sets us back,” said student Alexandra Lee
“They’re over cautious. PG&E is overcautious because they burned their fingers once; well, once or twice maybe,” said Branab Barthan, who works on campus.
But Kris Kierce, visiting from Los Angeles where the Santa Ana winds blow every year, was willing to see it from PG&E’s perspective.
“It’s going to have to be a necessary evil,” he said. “For so many years, they weren’t allowed…PG&E wasn’t allowed to make the defensible space around their power lines and all their equipment when they always wanted to. They always needed to.”
But back at the “apocalypse,” Spencer Hill said he thinks this may be bigger than just a utility problem.
“Feels scary because to me it’s, like, this is maybe some of the first real big signs of climate change seriously affecting us,” he said.
On Thursday, power restoration for Alameda County was delayed from noon until 2 pm. But the final approval to begin inspecting lines to restore service didn’t come until about 3 p.m.