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Emergency officials urge residents to prepare for possibility of future power shutoffs

Posted at 6:20 PM, Oct 09, 2019

Nearly 800,000 people will be without power in Northern and Central California until at least Thursday, according to PG&E. While the power is still on in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, weather conditions can change in an instant, possibly prompting a shutoff.

A red flag warning, low humidity levels, and high winds can all be deciding factors when it comes to a Public Safety Power Shutoff.

"Power may be shut off without any notice, so it's really important that folks be prepared and have that emergency supply kit, have a family plan that really details where they'll go, who'll they contact if power does go down," said Jorge Rodriguez, San Luis Obispo County Emergency Services Coordinator.

But are San Luis Obispo County residents really prepared for an outage?

"No, not at all. For a couple of days, maybe yeah, but outside of that, no, definitely not prepared," said Aleesha Clomp, Grover Beach resident.

"I think we'll be okay if it's just two or three days, you know. We'll see what happens after that," said Jim Melching, Grover Beach resident.

A potential PG&E power shutoff could have more implications than expected in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Daniel Bertucelli with the Santa Barbara County Fire says the department would receive more calls and could be relied upon for people whose medical devices need back-up power.

A shutoff could also be a factor on the roads.

"Causing street lights to go down and traffic signals to go down, might increase vehicle accidents and situations like that. Not only on top of that but the power being shut down because of critical fire weather which will increase the chances of us actually getting vegetation fires," Bertucelli said.

PG&E spokesman Mark Mesesan says there are currently no plans for San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County to have a power shutoff but says things can quickly change.

Mesesan also says it's important for people to stay informed of any changes and be prepared just in case.

PG&E has some tips for people to protect themselves during an outage. Those include keeping refrigerators and freezers closed, having food supplies that don't require refrigeration, and turning off and disconnecting appliances.