Thursday, October 31, 2019

State DOJ Denies Proposed St. Joseph, Adventist Health System Merger

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2019 at 3:11 PM

St. Joseph Hospital. - FILE
  • FIle
  • St. Joseph Hospital.
The California Department of Justice today denied a proposed partnership between Adventist Health System/West and St. Joseph Health System citing “concerns that it is not in the public interest, has the potential to increase health costs and potentially limits access and availability of health care services,” according to a release.

In June, Adventist Health System/West and St. Joseph Health System proposed creating the ST Network to operate 10 hospitals in a region stretching from Humboldt down to the North Bay area, including Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.

While the hospital systems said the merger would improve care in the covered areas, the state DOJ — which has supervision in California over all charitable organizations — found differently.

“The California Department of Justice is responsible for ensuring that any proposed sale or transfer of a nonprofit health facility protects the health and safety interests of the surrounding community. After careful review we found this proposal falls short of protecting consumers,” said Sean McCluskie, chief deputy to the Attorney General.

Read the full California Department of Justice release below:

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Plane Missing After Stopping in Shelter Cove

Posted By on Wed, Oct 30, 2019 at 11:17 AM

Last Thursday, Kayla Rodriguez, a Bay Area nurse, excited to be leaving on a short jaunt up the coast with her friend, Justin Winfrey, sent an Instagram post to her boyfriend as she arrived at the Novato air base at 5:49 p.m. Between then and the moment the two passenger plane they were in disappeared off the radar at 9:22 p.m., her activities are clearly tracked through social media posts to friends, interactions with witnesses and even a camera at Gyppo Ale Mill, where the two stopped after landing at Shelter Cove that evening before heading back south.
Kayla Rodriguez and Justin Winfrey. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Kayla Rodriguez and Justin Winfrey.
The missing plane is a 1968 red and white Piper Arrow, tail number N4958J.
But since the last blip on the radar late Thursday off the coast of Wheeler, north of Rockport, no one has heard from or seen the two. The worst is feared but family and friends are determined to do whatever possible to find them.

“These are two people who are very loved,” Adam Panetta, who had been dating Kayla, said late last night. “They are both very kind souls. They just want to make the people around them happy. We want to do the same for them.”

The missing plane. - SUBMITTED
  • submitted
  • The missing plane.
A fundraiser started just yesterday had brought in more $15,000 by this morning and Panetta said the plan is to use the money to support an intensive search effort. Hopefully, he said, people might volunteer helicopters and planes for the search and the money could be used to pay for gas. It will also be used for supplies for the search — “tables, tents, tree tags, etc.” anything to assist in finding the two.

“We are hoping to engage pilots and fishermen who would be willing to help conduct an aerial and coastal search,” Panetta stated. “We also began to sign up those who would be interested in a foot patrol of the area — friends, family and complete strangers who are willing to help.”

If you would like to contribute money to help with the search, click here to go to the GoFundMe.

Follow what is happening with the search on the Facebook page: Bring Kayla and Justin Home #FindKandJ.

Have any information about the missing? The best contact is

This story was first published at and is reposted here with permission.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

County: No Power Shutoff Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Oct 29, 2019 at 5:37 PM

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services is reporting PG&E has advised that the county is no longer in the scope of the Public Safety Power Shutoff planned to commence at 7 p.m. due to diminishing elevated fire conditions.

The release states that Humboldt County will remain with power throughout the evening, and that PG&E is hopeful it can restore power tonight to those who are still down from the Oct. 26 shutdown.

"At this time the National Weather Service does not foresee any weather patterns that would result in a PSPS event in the near future," the release states.

And here's the Humboldt County Office of Education's updating list of school closures.

See the full release from the county copied below:

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Fire Officials Talk Big Blue Blaze and Blackout Safety with Another Shutdown Coming

Posted By on Tue, Oct 29, 2019 at 4:46 PM

With Humboldt County looking like it's headed toward another blackout beginning at 7 p.m., local fire officials are warning residents to be fire safe and be careful with equipment that produces carbon monoxide.

Arcata Fire Battalion Chief Curt Watkins said his and other local departments responded to a number of blackout-related calls for service during the Oct. 26 blackout that left Humboldt County without power. There were some small structure fires and most notably a fire at Big Blue Café sparked by a generator on the east side of the Arcata Plaza.

A generator reportedly caught fire behind Big Blue Cafe in Arcata on Oct. 27. - PHOTOS BY RYAN HUTSON
  • Photos by Ryan Hutson
  • A generator reportedly caught fire behind Big Blue Cafe in Arcata on Oct. 27.
Watkins said someone at the business had been operating the generator in a semi-enclosed alcove in the rear of the business when it caught fire Oct. 27. The generator fire spread into a common underground space shared with neighboring buildings.

“The damage is way, way more than is visible,” Watkins said.

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PG&E and OES on Different Pages (and Maps) Until Late This Morning

Posted By on Tue, Oct 29, 2019 at 1:09 PM

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

If you’ve been paying attention and bracing for the next PG&E blackout, you’re likely super confused by now, having been inundated with conflicting reports from the company, local officials and a nonprofit for close to 24 hours. Here’s our best attempt to unravel what’s happening, which, unfortunately, doesn’t provide much clarity. The heart of it is that PG&E seems to have been providing inaccurate information to the county Office of Emergency Services.

PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras says the information the company has been pushing to the public since 11 p.m. last night is accurate: That is, that Humboldt County will see its power cut in two waves today, the first in Southern Humboldt beginning at 7 a.m. and the second from Fortuna north beginning at 9 p.m. She said shutdowns have already begun in Southern Humboldt but could not give a number of affected customers.
The Community Resource Center set up in McKInleyville. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • The Community Resource Center set up in McKInleyville.
PG&E’s outage maps, however, say something different. They show that there are, in fact, outages currently in Southern Humboldt but that they are limited to roughly a couple hundred customers who have all yet to regain power from the Oct. 26 shutoff. (The map notes that crews have been assigned to assess the outages, which we take to mean there were either damaged lines in those areas or some problem re-energizing them, but that they were not shutdown this morning due to the forecasted high-fire-risk event.)

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Monday, October 28, 2019

2nd UPDATE: With Information Conflicting, Uncertainty Mounts on Looming Blackouts

Posted By on Mon, Oct 28, 2019 at 9:12 PM

PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras responded to a Journal inquiry this morning to clarify that Humboldt (southern), which was slated to lose power at 7 a.m. this morning, includes Garberville, Benbow, Redway and surrounding areas while Humboldt (northern), currently slated to lose power around 9 p.m., includes Willow Creek, Hoopa, Arcata and Eureka.

Contreras said she couldn’t give more specific information about which communities and cities were expected to be impacted because “the power lines run different directions.”

Kym Kemp, a reporter based in Southern Humboldt, estimates that most of the area still had power as of 8:45 a.m. but that roughly 500 are currently without electricity due to the Public Safety Power Shutoff.

Speaking to Lost Coast Communications this morning, Contreras also said that some of the confusion surrounding shut off times is due to the fact that PG&E has a Humboldt “division” that does not, in fact, include any of Humboldt County but instead includes portions of Lake and Mendocino counties. So one can imagine how PG&E might make a reference to Humboldt the “division” that local officials or residents would take to mean Humboldt County.

Well, the miscommunications seemingly continue to mount at an alarming pace.

Someone at the Redwood Coast Energy Authority reportedly talked to a PG&E representative yesterday evening, which prompted the agency to put up a Facebook post advising locals that if they had power yesterday evening, they were likely to keep it through the night and through today until an approximate shutoff at 9 p.m. The post was shared widely and rapidly by Humboldt County residents tired of blackouts and looking for a bit of good news.

But in short order the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services posted to its Facebook page that, without naming it, RCEA’s post was inconsistent with the official word it was getting from PG&E and there may have been some “confusion due to PG&E having zones with different names, one of which is called ‘Humboldt’ but does not actually include Humboldt County.”

Less than three hours later, at about 11 p.m., PG&E issued a press release (copied below our original post) that includes the timeline for today’s round of Public Safety Power Shutoffs. It lists “Humboldt (Southern)” shutting down at 7 a.m. and “Humboldt (Northern)” going dark at 11 p.m.

We honestly don’t know what all this means but will endeavor to find out. In the meantime, the safe course seems to that if you have power, be as prepared as possible to lose it at any time and to do without it for some days. If you don’t have power, that may continue for some time.

(The latest PG&E press release does not include any estimates for restoration times but indicates the concerning “offshore wind event” prompting the shutoffs is expected to last through midday tomorrow, though the company advises its still analyzing whether it could event more shutoffs and “the extent of those shutoffs,” whatever exactly that means.)

Check the latest on school closures here.

If you're out there in Humboldt County living high on the hog, standing with your refrigerator door open and your cell phone battery below 20 percent because you saw a Facebook post telling you that if you currently have power you won't lose it in the morning, please shut the fridge and go plug in your cell phone.

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services is warning that social media posts making the rounds and claiming that Humboldt County residents who currently have power won't lose it in the morning are plainly false. According to the latest information OES has from PG&E, the entire county will go dark early tomorrow morning, likely before dawn, as a part of another widespread blackout aimed at preventing wildfires amid windy, dry conditions.

Per OES, some of the confusion seems to stem from the fact that PG&E has a zone labeled "Humboldt" in its maps that doesn't actually include Humboldt County. (Really, PG&E? Come on.) That not-Humboldt zone is not slated to lose power until tomorrow evening but the actual Humboldt County remains in line, according to the company, to see power cut hours in advance of a high-risk weather system at 6 a.m. Residents should plan accordingly.

For more information on what OES is advising, as well as what schools are planning to be closed tomorrow, see our past coverage here. Also, with temperatures expected to dip into the 30s tonight, there will be several "warming stations" set up in the county tomorrow. See the press release copied below for details.

From the county:
WARMING STATIONS for Tuesday morning
Temperatures are expected to be rather chilly this evening, dipping into the 30's during the night. Below is a list of locations that are confirmed to be opening early at 8:00 am on Tuesday morning (10-29-2019) and can provide you with a place to warm up with a cup of coffee and charge your small devices (These locations are NOT shelters, they are intended for temporary services.):

Three Community Resource Centers will open warming stations will open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Arcata Community Center - 321 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Arcata

Humboldt Bay Fire Bode Classroom – 3030 L St., Eureka

Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department - 320 South Fortuna Blvd., Fortuna
Check out the interactive Google Map for other Community Resource Center information.

From PG&E:
OCT 29 PSPS UPDATE: PG&E Prepares for Next Offshore Wind Event Expected to Impact

Some 596,000 Customers Starting Tomorrow

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reported Monday evening that it had restored approximately 57% of the 970,000 customers who had their power turned off for safety as part of a Public Safety Power Shutoff that began October 26.

As of 10 p.m. today, about 556,400 customers had been restored in portions of the following counties: (county list*).

PSPS Event on October 29 Due to Wind Forecasts

PG&E is closely following another potentially widespread dry, offshore wind event on Tuesday, Oct. 29, through midday Wednesday, Oct. 30. The shutoff is expected to impact approximately 596,000 customers in for Northern and Southern Sierra, North Bay, Bay Area, Santa Cruz mountains, North Coast and Kern County. Given fluctuations in the forecasts, PG&E continues to analyze whether this wind event will prompt more safety shutoffs, and the extent of those shutoffs.

Timeline for safety shutoffs

The times below are estimates and may change (earlier or later) dependent on the dynamic weather environment. Times below as of 8:00 p.m. on October 28, 2019:

Phase — Time/Date — Counties

1 — 5 A.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 —Butte, Plumas, Tehama, Trinity, and Shasta

2 — 9 A.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sierra, and Yuba

3 — 4 P.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, and Tuolumne

4 — 7 A.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Humboldt (Southern), Mendocino, and Sonoma

5 — 7 A.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Lake, Napa, Solano and Yolo

6 — 9 P.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Humboldt (Northern) and Siskiyou

7 — 11 P.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo

8 — 11 P.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Alameda, Contra Costa

9 — 9 P.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Kern

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County: All of Humboldt Will Lose Power Early Tomorrow Morning

Posted By on Mon, Oct 28, 2019 at 5:03 PM

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services just issued an alert warning that all PG&E customers in Humboldt County will lose power before early tomorrow morning and should be prepared to be without electricity for several days.

The outage comes as extreme weather conditions are set to tighten fire risks in Humboldt and surrounding counties, causing "dangerous conditions for power transmission lines."

A press release from the county indicates the extreme weather period is expected to begin at 6 a.m. tomorrow and power will cut several hours prior. The weather is expected to subside sometime Wednesday afternoon, after which PG&E will have to inspect lines before turning the power back on, a process that could take days.

The alert notes all the information is provided by PG&E and is subject to change, adding that local temperatures are forecast to dip into the 30s tonight. OES states this will be the last alert of the day as officials prepare for the looming outage.

The Humboldt County Office of Education, meanwhile, has updated its list of school closures, which can be found here.

Those who currently have power restored are urged to make the most of this brief respite by charging electronic devices, refueling their cars and restocking their supplies.

From OES:

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Some Power Restored as Another Blackout Looms

Posted By on Mon, Oct 28, 2019 at 11:25 AM

PG&E is in the process of inspecting lines in an effort to bring power back to Humboldt County this morning, with some areas already having been restored as another Public Safety Power Shutoff looms before dawn tomorrow.

According to the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services, PG&E is hoping to restore power to all local customers in advance of the next weather event that will bring elevated fire conditions and another blackout. That weather event is expected to begin at 6 a.m. tomorrow, with PG&E currently planning to cut power in Humboldt County around 4:30 a.m. But OES warns that these times are estimates and locals should prepare to lose power any time tonight.

The Eureka Municipal Auditorium, crowded with people charging their electronics this morning, with a line extending out the door. - LYNN LEISHMAN
  • Lynn Leishman
  • The Eureka Municipal Auditorium, crowded with people charging their electronics this morning, with a line extending out the door.
That is, if they even get it back before the next blackout. While PG&E is working to restore power, it's unknown if it will get power to all 60,000 or so local customers before the next shutdown, which could last into Thursday or beyond.

For those who do see power return, OES is advising that they use the brief window of electricity to recharge electrical devices, re-stock supplies, refuel vehicles and generally prepare to again be without electricity for some days.

Public safety agencies, meanwhile, report that things have been generally calm since PG&E cut power to Humboldt County beginning around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, though there have been some reported generator thefts.

Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson said three generators have been confirmed stolen in the city since Saturday night — two from the backs of trucks and one from the backyard of a residence during the night. Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal similarly said his office has received reports of generator thefts. Both urged folks to make sure their generators are locked down, secured and not left out overnight.

"Also, people have been complaining about generator noise," Honsal said in a text message to the Journal. "But there's not much we can do about that right now."

This seems a good opportunity to remind folks that OES is asking that folks refrain from calling 911 unless they are experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening emergency.

OES also advises that folks with disabilities or who are dependent on electricity to power life-sustaining medical equipment can call or text Tri-County Independent Living at (833) 866-8444 for assistance. Anisa Escobedo, the organization's outreach coordinator, told the Journal it has received approximately 250 calls through the outage and has been helping connect patients in need of electricity to power oxygen tanks and CPAP machines with local hotels that have power.

A host of community resource centers and electronic device charging stations have been set up throughout the county, as well, and you can find a full list in OES post that is copied below. Reports indicate that people looking to charge up should be prepared to wait, as some centers have long lines.

Blue Lake Rancheria, meanwhile, reports that it still has fuel, ice and supplies, though it is limiting fuel purchases to $50 and ice to two bags per customer. Check its Facebook page for continued updates.

See the full OES release copied below:

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Sunday, October 27, 2019

'All Clear' Given to Begin Checking HumCo Power Lines as Another Blackout Looms Tuesday

Posted By on Sun, Oct 27, 2019 at 2:45 PM

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services is reporting that PG&E has indicated that portions of Humboldt County have received the “all clear,” meaning weather conditions no longer pose an elevated fire risk, allowing the company to being inspecting its lines in an effort to restore power, a process that could still take some days.

PG&E has not, however, indicated which portions of the county have been deemed all clear.

The company has also warned that another weather event with elevated fire risks is forecast to hit early Tuesday morning and stretch into Thursday, which may result in another shutdown. OES warns that this means even if local PG&E customers see power restored in the coming days, it may be cut again a short time later.

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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Update: Power Out, Restoration Estimates Remain Unchanged

Posted By on Sat, Oct 26, 2019 at 7:17 PM

According to the Humboldt Office of Emergency Services, power started going out in Humboldt around 9:30 last night. Restoration estimates remain the same. PG&E expects weather conditions to improve by 4 p.m. today, after which it will have to inspect lines before restoring power, which could take several days. See past coverage for information about charging stations, open stores and meal services.

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services just issued an alert notifying residents that PG&E is now estimating the power in Humboldt County will shut off between 9 and 11 p.m. tonight, but warns these are estimates based on weather patterns and could change.

The office further reports that the company is now estimating it will get a weather "all clear" around 4 p.m. on Sunday but that doesn't mean the power will flicker back on then. Rather, the company will then be cleared to begin inspecting lines and repairing any damage prior to turning the power back on. OES warns this process could take 48 daylight hours — or roughly four days — meaning that even if the weather calms by tomorrow afternoon, power may not be restored to all Humboldt County customers until Thursday.

The bottom line is this remains a very fluid event contingent on weather conditions — with outage and restoration time estimates having changed repeatedly throughout the day — and customers should continue to prepare for the outage to begin at any time and to be without power for some days.

Here's the latest from OES:

PG&E now estimates the Public Safety Power Shutoff will occur sometime between 9:00 pm and 11:00 pm tonight. Again, these times are estimates given the ever-changing nature of the weather event. These delays in the power shut off are in part because PG&E is trying to limit the time that customers are impacted. The estimation for the weather “All clear” is on Sunday, 10-27-2019 at 4:00 pm. This weather “All clear” time is NOT when the power will come back on. The weather “All clear” time is the time when PG&E personnel can begin inspecting the lines. It can take up to 48 daylight hours from the weather “All clear” time until power is restored because any damage found during the inspection will need to be repaired prior to power restoration.
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