SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — Parts of Sonoma County are going through their fifth Public Safety Power Shutoff of the season. But this time around, those without power face the bitter cold as well as fire danger.
Another wind event has forced PG&E to implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff that affected approximately 50,000 customers in 11 counties. But due to improved weather conditions, PG&E already began restoring power to around 4,800 customers’ power in Napa and Sonoma Counties around 6 p.m. Wednesday.
PG&E said current weather conditions pointed to a possible restoration for most customers by late Thursday.
“Wind speeds exceeding 50 mph were recorded in most of these counties, including wind speeds over 70 mph in Sonoma County. Winds are expected to subside Thursday morning,” PG&E said in a statement.
But in Santa Rosa on Wednesday night, intersections that would normally have traffic lights have been turned into a four way stop and all you see is darkness as you drive through the neighborhoods.
But there was one home that was looking a lot like Christmas. Alex Krebs, a Santa Rosa resident, says, “We were able to use the generator to light it up so we thought we would light up the neighborhood a little bit.”
The Krebs family made the best out of the PSPS to get ready for the holidays. With the power down, they don’t have the tools they need to work from home.
Krebs added, “We just do the best we can because we can’t run the business. We need the internet. So we really want the power to come back on. We do.”
With this being the fifth power shutoff of the year, the city of Santa Rosa is diligently working on improving communications with its residents.
“It’s becoming the new normal and until thi s change, we have to lean into these things and help our community prepare for them,” said Paul Lowenthal with the Santa Rosa Fire Department.
Lowenthal hopes with PG&E sending the same number of personnel as the larger power shutoffs, they will be able to turn the lights back on quickly when the utility company gets the all clear to re-energize Thursday morning.
Until then, residents will be left in the cold with temperatures expected to drop into the 30s. A warming center will be open at at St. Leo’s Catholic Church at 601 W. Agua Caliente Road until Thursday.
Residents at the warming center can charge devices such as cellphones. Cots for sleeping are not being provided. But warm beverages and blankets will be available. Service animals are allowed inside, but not pets.
“The house warms up during the day so we’ll just get out the blankets. Yeah we will have lots of blankets for tonight,” said resident Matt Krebs.
Schools in this area are tentatively planning for a later 10 a.m. start, hoping the power will be back on by then.