SANTA ROSA (KPIX) — Many of the same areas affected by wildfire are also affected by PG&E’s public safety power shutoffs and Sonoma County has got pretty good at preparing for both situations.
On Saturday, PG&E’s North Bay power outage map showed a few green and yellow dots for small lingering outages in the hills above Santa Rosa. For Sunday, the map shows giant swaths of orange from Napa Valley to the Marin County coast, indicating massive areas of power loss.
In John Meserve’s Kenwood neighborhood, folks are getting used to it.
“It’s like the song of our people,” Meserve said. “You drive through the neighborhood and there’s just generator after generator after generator. So, yeah, I mean, we all expect it. We’ve been through it enough times.”
The Spinster Sisters restaurant in downtown Santa Rosa is lucky. It’s on the same grid as the police station and a hospital so it probably won’t lose power. Owner Liza Hinman says no electricity for two or three days can be devastating to restaurants.
“It’s a really big financial hit,” Hinman said. “It’s often not covered by insurance so it can be really tricky for restaurants.”
Any food that falls below 40 degrees must be thrown out so a lot of restaurants have their own generators or know where they can get one. Even if they don’t, a lot of locals have discovered a lower-tech solution.
National Ice Company in Santa Rosa sells dry ice and, when the public safety power shutoffs first began, they became pretty popular.
“I think PG&E maybe scared everybody into it because everybody was coming in here scared,” said an employee named Nathan.
Harold Hughes discovered that placing a block of dry ice in a refrigerator can work as well as having a generator.
“I have two refrigerators. I put one in the freezer of each and one in the refrigerator of each,” Hughes said. “It worked quite well.”
With wildfires, a pandemic and now power outages under their belts, living in Sonoma County can test the fortitude of those who live here.
Restaurant owner Hinman says what’s not killing them is making them stronger. “Yeah,” she said, “we’re hoping that. We’ve got to stay strong these days, for sure.”
During the expected PSPS events, PG&E will maintain a number of community resource centers in affected areas, providing emergency power for residents. Locations are listed on PG&E’s website.