Ongoing power outages leave thousands in the Bay Area yearning for a return to a sense of ‘normality’

LOS ALTOS, Calif. (KGO) — It has been days since thousands of people in the Bay Area have had power.

Widespread outages are just some of the lingering effects of the latest storm, particularly for much of the South Bay and Peninsula.

At the height of the storm, PG&E says 140,000 Santa Clara County customers were without power.

Days later, many are still in the dark – the outages have all but shut down places like downtown Los Altos.

Live Storm Updates: Over 43,000 Bay Area PGs&E customers still without electricity

“Bad for business,” said Sherwin Sand, a Los Altos business manager, “but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Saratoga residents, like Judy Moring, are managing the impacts as best they can.

But even with a well-stocked house of lanterns and other provisions, Moring says the steps she’s taken can go no further.

“The hardest part is losing all your food in your fridge, because at this point I have to throw away a lot of it,” she said. “Even keeping a lot of ice in there.”

MORE: Redwood tree falls in Los Altos Elementary School classroom, injuring student

A free barbecue event was held for first responders and Los Altos residents facing the multi-day power outages.

The Chamber of Commerce, JW Catering and downtown restaurant The Post hosted the free barbecue event on Thursday afternoon.

Sally Meadows, mayor of Los Altos, said 70% to 75% of Los Altos lost power from Tuesday’s storm.

“They came together to say thank you to our first responders. And also use the food that we don’t want to waste,” Meadows said.

Los Altos resident Fran Vella attended the barbecue hoping to get an update on when power would be restored. She heard Thursday night or so.

“So we made it, but I’m sick of it. And you know, not having a stove without a heater – you get used to these things that you don’t realize until you have them,” said Vella.

VIDEO: Peak winds battered the Bay Area during this week’s winter storm; Loma Prieta hits record bursts, NWS says

In a Los Altos neighborhood, a woman and her family parked the car to spend the night elsewhere.

Luckily for David Zensius and his wife, their neighbor has a generator and lets them connect using extension cords.

“Well, that powers the fridge and that’s the most important thing,” Zensius said.

Longtime Los Altos residents said they’ve never been without power this long.

“I can’t remember a day and we’ve been here for 86,” Zensius said.

As of 8 p.m. Thursday, power was restored to much of downtown Los Altos.

RELATED: “What Can We Do?” Thousands of people across South Bay are struggling with prolonged power outages amid storm cleanup

According to PGAccording to &E’s outage map, power is expected to return to parts of Los Altos through Sunday.

PG&E says it has been working steadily to restore power to everyone as quickly as possible, an incident management team is coordinating crews and other resources to expedite the restoration.

The utility company admits, however, that the storms have presented them with difficult conditions.

“There were some areas that we couldn’t access due to security issues,” PG said.&E Spokesperson Mayra Tostado. “At one point, because we saw gusts of wind that exceeded 90 miles per hour, our crews had to pull out because it wasn’t safe for them to do the job.”

As work continues to address short-term issues, back-to-back storms have drawn attention to what is being done to help infrastructure withstand more storms.

With wind being the main culprit for these more recent outages, ABC7 asked PG&E on the possibility of further investment in underground power lines.

MORE: Video shows glass falling from SF skyscraper after window shattered due to intense gusts of wind

Although no clear timetable or plan was given, the utility company says even the underground lines were not immune to these storms.

“Not only did the vegetation snap our utility poles and power lines above ground, but the floods and landslides also damaged underground facilities,” Tostado said.

Always PG&E says it is working with engineers, local government and other agencies to better invest in infrastructure.

For now, owners like Moring are just ready and waiting for their lives to return to normal.

“On the third day you start to get a little grumpier,” she said, “Because the mornings are cold and I want my cup of coffee.”

PG&E says they expect around 90% of customers without power to be restored by Thursday evening.

The last 10%, he says, will be more difficult due to accessibility issues like flooded roads.

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