What the PG&E Shutdown Has Meant for Californians, In Their Own Words

A photo my parents sent me of the almost completely dark Sonoma Valley at night. Some properties have generators and other cities (like Richmond that’s lit up in the distance) haven’t lost power at all.

The PG&E power shutoff continued into the second day in Northern California. While power was restored to 288,000 customers, 510,000 still remain without power. California’s Governor Gavin Newsom said that greed and mismanagement led to the shutoffs, and the City of San Jose said that the outages have already cost the city $500,000 in just one day. The entire ordeal has been unpleasant and often infuriating for residents and I (Miro) wanted to ask some friends from my hometown of Sonoma to describe what the experience has been like for them and their families. Listening to their stories makes me so anxious that this will become the new normal for my home state as wildfires continue to become an increasing threat.

Kim Z.: “We luckily have a gas generator but are using this as a learning experience. There are a few things that we now know that we need. We are making lists. Hopefully, everyone can learn something from this. And hopefully the power will come back on soon but it sounds like it’s going to be at least until Saturday.”

Kim also added that when she went to the grocery store to try and buy food for her family the shelves were empty and “people were running down isles to get to the ice when they announced it on the speaker. The lines were backed up halfway down the isles to check out.”

Deidre N.:For some, a power outage is manageable. But not for those who are poor, elderly, sick, have small children…it’s not so easy. All our food has gone bad…but we didn’t get much of a notice and may not have enough money to replenish. It’s gonna cost more money to reheat our homes (ours is currently at 54°). We can’t do laundry, shower, dishes, etc since we live on a well. Yes, it’s better than losing our homes. Although with all the candles burning that doesn’t make it any safer! Schools have been shut down, businesses, the list goes on. I just hope [PG&E] keep their word and start restoring power today.

Natassja W.:Our landlords did get a generator since the fires so we do have water this time around but still no power. I had to completely clean out our stocked fridge today due to food spoiling and we’re at the end of our shelf food so I’m really hoping this ends soon! They shut down my son’s school too and we have had to work through the emotions of that…5-year-olds have such valid questions and concerns. Trying to answer without scaring him too much has been hard!

There have been bright spots throughout this frustrating period, check out this heartwarming story from my local paper, the Sonoma Index-Tribune, about how our community has come together to help one another out in the dark. 

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