ORINDA (KPIX 5) — With all the recent power outages, people are having to cope with a lot of uncertainty, but some East Bay schools and businesses persevered and remained open in the dark.

At Del Rey Elementary in Orinda, the power was back on Tuesday, but no one was sure for how long. And on Monday, students and staff there got a chance to learn in an “old school” way.

When the power went off in Orinda for the second time over the weekend, Del Rey Elementary Principal Kirsten Theurer was ready. She had purchased battery powered lanterns because even in daylight, the classrooms were incredibly dark.

“Some of the things you take for granted, you really can’t anymore,” Theurer said.

They had no lights or phones, and even the clocks and recess bells weren’t working.

“A couple kids came in with head lanterns from home…which was super-cute on a four-year old!” said Transitional Kindergarten teacher Margaret Sawyer.


One student complained that he had to use a dull pencil all day because all of the sharpeners are now electric. Nevertheless, after some adjustment, Theurer said the students and staff found out it was possible to learn without all the modern conveniences.

“We were able to hunker down with flashlights,” she said, “and read books together and tell stories around the lantern, and go out and do chalk shadows on the playground, and different things like that that brought us back to life without all that technology.”

And if there is an award for perseverance, it may go to the Safeway store on Georgia Street in Vallejo. Much of the city has been blacked out since Saturday and with only minimal power, the cave-like store has stayed open, selling non-perishable foods to neighborhood residents who are shopping by flashlight.

The dark aisles can feel a bit spooky but, with most other stores closed, residents appreciate the effort to remain open.

“The people here are really nice and they’re looking out for the community, I think, and that’s a really nice thing,” said Jan Stanley, who lives in the neighborhood.

People all across the Bay Area are learning to cope with sudden change. Back at the school, they decided that as long as kids weren’t in danger, the best way to take the fear out of a power outage was to maintain a familiar schedule.

“And to bring them in and have the school day happen just like every other day, because these outages may be part of our new normal,” said Theurer.