The Monterey County Office of Emergency Services is urging residents to prepare for PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs to happen as soon as the end of the year.
Last week, more than 50,000 people in Santa Cruz County were impacted by planned power outages, much higher than the initial 37,000 estimated.
PG&E says the shutoffs are needed to prevent wildfires from starting if, for example, high winds cause loose branches to damage power lines.
PG&E tells KION they do not have any planned power shutoff right now for the Central Coast, but that could change depending on the weather conditions the area faces.
In the wake of these unprecedented power shutoffs across California, some residents in Salinas are dreading the potential.
“It’d be majorly disruptive. I wouldn’t be prepared for it,” said Marcy Klein, a Salinas resident.
Monterey County was not affected by the power shut offs last week; they were taken off the list a day before it started. But the county OES warns residents to get prepared to go days without electricity, especially if you live in Carmel Valley or South Monterey County.
“We absolutely expect that at some point, PG&E is going to notify us that they intend to shut down our power,” said Gerry Malais, the emergency manager at MCOES.
Monterey County faces an average two or three Red Flag Warnings a year — warnings that say there is an increase in wildfire risk because of warmer temperatures, low humidities and high winds.
“In most cases, our areas of Carmel, Carmel Valley, Big Sur, south county along the 101 corridor would be the most subject to shut down in Monterey County,” said Malais.
Urban areas like Monterey and Salinas are less likely to be impacted.
Monterey County OES managers say they have put an Energy Disruption Plan in place, with protocols on how to communicate with residents during power loss and when to set up relief shelters if necessary. The county’s Emergency Operations Center will also kick in.
PG&E also has plans to open at least two resource centers in Monterey County, just like those in Santa Cruz County last week that provided A.C., charging stations and water.
Preparation by residents, however, is key.
PG&E says in the event of an outage, it’s important to have cash on hand and a full tank of gas. ATMs and gas stations may not be available during an outage.
“I mean, it’d be smart to get a generator, but I don’t know that I would. We do have lanterns and a lot of candles, but that only gets you so far,” said Klein.
“Certainly, if they’re prepared with water, back up generation for their own homes or businesses, the supplies that they need for the up to five to seven days that this could be in effect,” said Malais.
PG&E will contact county officials and local first response agencies for advanced notice before any power shut off happens.
Monterey County OES says it is important to sign up for alertmonterey.org or Nixle to get alerts and stay informed. For more information on that, click here.
For more information on how to get prepared for a planned power shut off, click here.
In the case of a planned power shut off, a few tips to follow are:
– Create a safety plan with your family on what to do if a shut off happens.
– Have an emergency supply kit on hand filled with water and non-perishable food that can last a week.
– Have extra batteries and flashlights available as well.
– Get to know your neighbors and exchange contact information.