Thousands of people across South Bay are grappling with prolonged power outages amid storm cleanup and PG&E work
LOS ALTOS, Calif. (KGO) — Tens of thousands of families and businesses are still without power in the Bay Area.
In total, more than 43,000 customers were in the dark as of 10 a.m. Thursday morning, two full days after Tuesday’s storm.
As for restoring power, it could still take days for some in the South Bay.
As the sound of generators fills the air, downtown Los Altos has turned into a ghost town with most businesses closed and a few surviving solely on generators.
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“What can we do? We just have to sit down,” said Los Altos visitor David Chan.
Meanwhile, power outages have led to even more complications for the city. Gas stations are unable to pump gasoline without electricity, and so are ATMs and stop lights, which caused a bit of a traffic jam for morning commuters. Each light is now treated as a four-way stop.
“Tough, tough, really,” said Sherwin Sand, a Los Altos business manager. “Because I have to stop and wait for every traffic light would take about five minutes.”
PG&E says that at one point during Tuesday’s atmospheric river, 468,000 Bay Area customers lost power, the worst single-day system-wide outage in nearly 30 years.
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“Their crews have to be up to their eyeballs with work,” said Steve, a Los Altos resident.
Some Los Altos customers were told their power would not be restored until 10 p.m. Friday night.
“It’s a little disappointing, I don’t know for sure, but I feel like there’s been a lot of deferred maintenance,” Steve said. “There are many telephone poles that are tilted up there, and I think they are trying to solve this problem.”
While some restaurant owners bring in refrigerated trucks, just to keep some of their food from spoiling, others don’t have that option.
“It’s bad for business, but there’s nothing we can do, so just stay positive,” Sand said.
Power outage costs thousands of restaurants in South Bay
Vickie Breslin, owner of The Post restaurant, said she lost power on Tuesday afternoon. Friends gathered to help late at night, one friend even took an Uber with bags of dry ice.
On Wednesday morning, Breslin said his manager was able to rent a 28-foot refrigerated truck so his food wouldn’t spoil.
“We checked the temperature of everything and brought it in and started asking our neighbors if they needed to store anything too,” Breslin said. Two nearby restaurants accepted his offer.
Breslin said this loss of activity for more than a day is significant. Especially during March Madness, a break from the rain and approaching St. Patrick’s Day.
Breslin hosted a Thursday night community barbecue with JW Catering and the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce.
The House’s Kim Mosley said it was a “thank you” event to city staff, emergency responders and storm crews.
Breslin said the event provided shifts for his staff and a time to turn things around for a good cause.
VIDEO: Pleasanton Church among East Bay storm damage
“I can cry about it or we can turn it into something positive for the community and for everyone around because you know what else you’re going to do,” Breslin said.
Longtime restaurateur Jan Unlu of Caff La Scala was unlucky to find a generator. He wished there was some sort of municipal resource that could help. In all these years the power had never been off for so long.
“35 years old, never happened, most around the clock,” Unlu said.
He also rented a refrigerated truck. He said that half of the food he saved he would have to throw away. He anticipates a total loss of business and food will cost him $34,000.
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“It doesn’t help too much if you just save the food,” Unlu said.
At Therapy Salon, co-owner Todd Zebb said there was a loss of revenue, clients had to be rescheduled and work for their stylists.
“I have single and single moms so it’s hard for them too. So now we might have to reschedule Sunday or Monday when we’re closed or they have to stay later,” Zebb said.
PG&E assures customers they have more than 1,700 crews, including some from other parts of the state, to repair damage primarily caused by falling debris and turn lights back on.
“We are moving heaven and earth here, all of our crews are working and trying to get you back in the spotlight as quickly as possible,” Aaron Johnson, a PGsaid &E Regional Vice President.
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