Parts of Santa Cruz County are expected to lose power beginning at 8pm tonight. Residents have tried to prepare for PG&E’s anticipated “Public Safety Power Shutoff” with changing information. Local water departments are also on high alert.
Santa Cruz County residents have been filling up their cars with gas and stocking up on supplies as they prepare for PG&E to turn off the power.
Sam Robins filled up his propane tank and checked on his flashlights and batteries at home. Then, he stopped by Deluxe Foods of Aptos, a grocery store.
“Mostly I came to buy liquid drinks and cartons and bottles to put in my fridge so they'd be cold and freeze them so that when the power went out, I'd have things to drink and also ice,” Robins said.
Inside the store, Sergio Sierra, a manager, said Wednesday is normally their quietest day of the week. But today, it’s been more like their busiest.
“It's been kind of chaotic. There's a lot of ice and just emergency essentials that have been going out at a record pace,” Sierra said.
At first, PG&E announced parts of Santa Cruz County would lose power early Wednesday morning. But as of Wednesday afternoon, PG&E had cut power to hundreds of thousands of customers in Northern California. Additional shutoffs are expected Wednesday night in other areas due to weather conditions that have created an increased risk of fire danger.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the Santa Cruz mountains through Thursday afternoon. This warning happens when warm temperatures, strong winds, low humidity and dry vegetation combine to create an increased risk of fire danger.
In downtown Santa Cruz, the Water Department is asking customers to conserve water because when the power goes out, the department has to use generators to pump some water.
Rosemary Menard is the director of the Water Department.
“The big issue will be if its longtime power outage then we need to be refueling the generators and we have plans for doing that but there might be a lot of them involved so that will be the tension for us,” Menard said.
Soquel Creek Water District has asked Santa Cruz to open up the emergency link between the districts so that they can make use of Santa Cruz’s water supply if necessary. The City of Santa Cruz supplies water to around 100,000 people and Soquel Creek Water District supplies water to about half of that.
Scotts Valley Water District is also standing by. The district bought extra generators to prepare and has been making sure their reservoirs are full.
PG&E has opened a community resource center at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos. It has restrooms, charging stations and water along with PG&E representatives to answer questions.
As PG&E continues to shut off the power in communities across Northern and Central California, the company recommends you plan for medical needs, locate backup charging devices for phones and keep emergency food and water on hand. The outages could last for several days.
PG&E created these “Public Safety Power Shutoffs” to try and eliminate the risk of a spark from their equipment during heightened fire risk periods. In recent years, the company’s equipment has sparked wildfires, including the devastating Camp Fire in Butte County.
Click here for KQED's outage map.