Nevada County County officials prepare for possible power shutoff this weekend | TheUnion.com

Nevada County County officials prepare for possible power shutoff this weekend

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

Tips for power shutoffs

Extreme fire weather conditions are predicted today to Monday. Start preparing now for another potential Public Safety Power Shutoff. Once your power is restored, take the opportunity to recharge your devices and restock water if you are on a well. Refuel cars and generators, stock up on supplies, and withdraw cash while the ATMs have power. Make sure your Go Bag is ready and your car is parked toward the road, and take a moment to check in with friends, family and neighbors to see if they have any needs you may be able to help with.

Source: Office of Emergency Services

Another power shutoff is possible today and could last until late Monday or longer, PG&E said.

PG&E officials said a decision will be made around 8 a.m. today about whether to cut power to some 850,000 customers across a wide swath of California, including over 43,000 customers in Nevada County. If the Public Safety Power Shutoff is implemented, people in parts of 36 counties will lose power for 48 hours or longer.

If the shutoff happens, customers in Grass Valley, Nevada City, Chicago Park, Penn Valley, Rough and Ready, Norden, North San Juan, Smartsville, Soda Springs and Washington would lose power around 3 p.m. today.

“The times here are subject to change,” said Sumeet Singh, a vice president with PG&E, at a Friday briefing.

Scott Strenfel, chief meteorologist with PG&E, said strong winds are expected to start today, continue through Sunday and expire Monday. Winds could reach speeds of 45 to 60 mph, and peak at 65 to 80 mph.

“Fuels are very dry after the event we just went through,” Strenfel said, referring to Wednesday’s planned shutoff.

PG&E shut off power to 179,000 customers this week in anticipation of high winds that could damage power lines and potentially cause fires. A vast majority of those customers had power restored by Friday.

Now they could lose it again.

“Unfortunately, we are experiencing another event on the horizon,” Strenfel said.

Local operations

County officials want people to talk to each other during the shutoff.

That’s so “people are taking care of each other” and passing along information, said Taylor Wolfe, public information officer with the county’s emergency operations center.

The county recommends people avoid doing yard work with lawn mowers, building campfires or conducting target shooting this weekend.

Jenn Tamo, administrative analyst with the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services, said as the shutoffs become more routine, the office has become more comfortable preparing people for, and helping others through, the event.

“This is what we train for,” said Tamo. “We are here to serve the community.”

Nevada County Sheriff’s Lt. Bob Jakobs said residents have also adjusted to the shutoffs.

“The public seems to be handling the situation pretty well,” he said.

Jakobs said the county is in constant contact with PG&E, holding three teleconferences per day with the utility company.

Tamo said emergency services is also consistently communicating with Cal Fire, city partners, forest services, Connecting Point 2-1-1, health care providers and the FREED Center for Independent Living to ensure those most vulnerable — the elderly and disabled — have access to power during the shutoffs.

“We have such a small community,” said Tamo. “We know each other” and are therefore able to make calls and mobilize resources quickly.

The Office of Emergency Services is staffed and open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., said Jakobs, but are prepared to remain open 24 hours if a wildfire erupts.

Mostly, Jakobs said residents make calls about basic services — where to get gas, groceries or batteries.

The emergency services office is now concerned with the next possible shutoff beginning today, where “winds are (likely) the most severe and extreme” of the season as well as the past couple years, said Tamo.

The analyst hopes part of Grass Valley will have power, as it did during the previous shutoff.

“It provides a place to get food, a place to get gas,” said Tamo.

The area has been able to remain powered because it’s a “less high fire risk” area, said Tamo, and power lines are underground.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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