4:30 p.m. update: Power in Stanislaus County remained on as of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, officials said. However, PG&E still has plans to turn off power to parts of Stanislaus County, according to OES spokesman Deputy Royjindar Singh said. He said he received an update at 4 p.m., about an hour after the power company was expected to shut off power in parts of the county. He said PG&E could not give him an update on when the shutoff would occur, or for how long.
Meanwhile, in the Mother Lode, the Union Democrat reported that power was shut off to about 58,000 customers in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties in the afternoon, about two hours before Red Flag warnings for high winds were expected to be in effedt at 5 p.m.
John K. Osbourn, the Calaveras OES director, told the news organization that “The decision to turn off the power and the speed at which it is restored is planned and managed solely by PG&E. Citizens are strongly urged to prepare for being without power for several days.”
Power was cut off along Highway 4 around 4 p.m., according to mymotherlode.com.
Cathy Parker, superintendent for Tuolumne County Schools, told the website: “The plan for most schools is to wait for further updates before making decisions … some are making decisions to close right now. ... Some are waiting until tonight or tomorrow morning in hopes they restore power before school starts.”
1:10 p.m. update: PG&E says the second phase of the planned power shutoff, initially scheduled for noon, has been delayed a few hours, given changes to the weather forecast. Those counties include Alameda, Alpine, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Mariposa,
1:30 p.m. update: Stanislaus County has opened a community resource center in Oakdale at the library, 151 S. First Ave., for those affected by the scheduled power shutoff. Restrooms and electronic-device charging will be available. The American Red Cross will be providing bottled water. The center will be open until 6 p.m. It will reopen Thursday and Friday if needed, OES spokesman Deputy Royjindar Singh said.
1:10 p.m. update: PG&E says the second phase of the planned power shutoff, initially scheduled for noon, has been delayed a few hours, given changes to the weather forecast. Those counties include Alameda, Alpine, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Mariposa, Mendocino, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus and Tuolumne.
At Joe’s Travel Plaza off Interstate 5 in Westley, customer-service manager Michelle Carson said early Wednesday afternoon that the business has a generator so still will be able to keep food and drinks cold, run cash registers and operate the gas pumps.
Once the power goes off, though, there won’t be running water for restrooms, showers and laundry — a big inconvenience for the 1,200 to 1,500 truckers and travelers who pull into Joe’s every day, she said. That’s because the pump is not on the generator. Carson said the pump also serves the Denny’s and Dickey’s restaurants.
“They are worried about getting lawsuits because of all the people killed in the fires last year,” she said. Well look at all the people you’re putting out of business. Look at the homes that have elderly and small children. It[s frustrating. ...
“This morning I got a call from (Stanislaus County). They told me the power was going to be going out between nine and noon. So far they haven’t shut our power off. When the power does go off, it will effect us with our water because the well is off site and the generator won’t power up the well. So, we won’t have showers or restrooms and that’s a bad place to be when you’re working in a place off the freeway. Your customers come, want to use the restrooms, want something to eat and we won’t be able to provide some of that.”
Even once the power is back on, food service at Joe’s, Dickey’s and Denny’s won’t be allowed to resume until a Stanislaus County inspector signs off on the well’s water quality, she said.
Original story: Pacific Gas & Electric power shutoffs — a proactive measure to avoid wildfires caused by anticipated high winds that could damage equipment — will begin at noon in parts of Stanislaus County, Fire Warden Richard Murdock said Wednesday morning.
Local areas that may be affected, he and PG&E said, are Westley, Grayson, Patterson, Oakdale, Knights Ferry, La Grange, Modesto, Riverbank, Newman, Vernalis and Tracy.
Murdock, director of the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services, provided a list of the number of PG&E customers anticipated to be included in the outages:
- Modesto: 1
- Westley: 422
- Grayson: 278
- Newman: 190
- Patterson: 149
- Oakdale: 113
- Vernalis: 76
- Tracy: 30
- Knights Ferry: 14
- La Grange: 4
- Riverbank: 1
But residents of River Cove in Riverbank reportedly received a text from PG&E midmorning that the entire neighborhood would be affected.
Customers of the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts will not be affected, Murdock said. Still, shortly after 8 a.m., TID posted on Facebook, “It’s getting windy outside and although TID is not part of PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs, winds can cause outages. If your power goes out, call our 24 hour Emergency line to report it at 209-883-8301.”
Should MID customers lose power, they’re asked to call 209-526-8222.
The PG&E outage could affect telecommunications, water facilities and schools, according to a briefing that included Stanislaus County OES on Tuesday afternoon.
PG&E is operating a community resource center today during daylight hours at the Westley Hotel, 8615 Highway 33. It will provide restrooms, bottled water, electronic-device charging and air-conditioned seating for up to 100 people. Stanislaus sheriff’s Deputy Royjindar Singh, who is acting as spokesman for the OES during the shutoff, said the county also is working to set up a CRC somewhere in the Oakdale area, as well.
For customers affected in Tuolumne County, such a center is at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds 220 Southgate Drive, Sonora. The noon shutoff there was expected to be countywide, including the communities of Sonora, Groveland, Twain Harte, Jamestown, Tuolumne, Mi Wuk Village, Pinecrest, Columbia, Soulsbyville, Long Barn, Strawberry, Chinese Camp, Cold Springs, Moccasin, Big Oak Flat and Sierra Village.
In the very early afternoon, however, the power remained on, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sgt. Andrea Benson told The Bee.
Murdock said Stanislaus OES activated at 8:30 a.m. its Emergency Operations Center to support the community during the power outage.
In a news release Tuesday afternoon, PG&E said portions of 34 counties will be affected by the power shutoff. It expected to begin shutoffs just after midnight Tuesday and said outages to communities will come in stages, depending on local timing of the severe wind conditions. First counties affected are in the northern part of the state.
The company has been notifying potentially impacted customers and will continue to do so, via automated calls, texts and emails, it said.
PG&E said it anticipates the weather event will last through midday Thursday, with peak winds forecast from Wednesday morning through Thursday morning and reaching 40 to 55 mph. The National Weather Service predicts wind gusts in the Modesto area of 30 to 35 mph.
According to Tuesday afternoon’s briefing, PG&E anticipates an all clear by about noon Thursday.
But the PG&E news release says that before restoring power, the company must inspect its equipment for damage and make any necessary repairs. “That process cannot begin until the severe weather event has subsided. Given the prolonged period during which the wind event will unfold, and the large number of power line miles that will need to be inspected before restoration, customers are being asked to prepare for an extended outage.”