SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — Pacific Gas & Electric launched a fleet of helicopters and an army of ground crews throughout Wine Country Thursday, searching for any damage to lines and equipment as the utility continued to restore electricity to homes and businesses blacked out during the most recent planned power outage.

The utility said wind conditions had improved enough by 2 a.m. to issue an “all clear” to field crews, triggering the process of reconnecting 50,000 homes and businesses in Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Solano counties.

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“PG&E expects all customers to be restored by tonight or sooner, pending damages found on the system,” officials said in a news release.

The utility said more than 5,500 on-the-ground field personnel and 45 helicopters would be involved in the re-energizing process.

As of 6:00 a.m., approximately 10,000 customers had been restored. Normalcy would begin returning for residents who spent the night in homes lit by generators, flashlights and candles.

In Santa Rosa Wednesday night, intersections that would normally have traffic lights have been turned into a four way stop and all you see was darkness as you drove 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.”

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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 was diligently working on improving communications with its residents.

“It’s becoming the new normal and until this change, we have to lean into these things and help our community prepare for them,” said Paul Lowenthal with the Santa Rosa Fire Department.

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