Emergency

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Large Power Outage in SoHum

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 10:44 AM

UPDATE:

Power was restored around 10:50 a.m.

PREVIOUS:

A widespread outage in Southern Humboldt has left 4,200 PG&E customers without power and forced Southern Humboldt Unified School District to shutter its campuses for the day, with power expected to be out until this afternoon.

Power went out last night at 11:09 p.m. to almost all of the Southern Humboldt region. While PG&E had planned maintenance in the area today, a company spokesperson says the outage is unrelated — noting it is also not a part of any of the company's planned Public Safety Power Shutoffs — and the company has helicopters, which took off as soon as the fog lifted this morning, out checking lines from Bridgeville to Garberville.
SCREENSHOT OF PG&E'S OUTAGE MAP
  • Screenshot of PG&E's outage map
“Multiple personnel are in the area working on the issue,” the spokesperson said, adding that the outage appears to stem from a pocket of outages in the Leggett area.

According to the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services, “The Humboldt Alert test scheduled for 10:17 this morning has been canceled due to the unscheduled power outage in southern Humboldt. Drills and notification tests are always subject to cancellation if the message or activity may be confusing during a real event.”

PG&E representative Deanna Contreras sent the following press release:


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UPDATE: Humboldt Alert Test Canceled Due to SoHum Outage

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 10:15 AM

It's time for the ShakeOut earthquake drill. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • It's time for the ShakeOut earthquake drill.
UPDATE:

The Humboldt Alert test set for today to coincide with the ShakeOut at 10:17 a.m. has been canceled due to a power outage in Southern Humboldt.

PREVIOUS:

When the Humboldt Alert system triggers at 10:17 a.m. tomorrow, there’s no need to panic. The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services will be testing the warning program as part of the ShakeOut earthquake drill. The alert, the OES notes, “will be clearly identified as a test."

The annual shakeout has millions of people around the world at schools, business, government agencies and more taking the time to “drop, cover and hold on” as a drill for what to do when an earthquake hits. And, if 10:17 a.m. doesn’t work, just pick another time, organizers say.

Not signed up for the Humboldt Alert system? There's still time, just click here.

And with the blackout barely behind us, this is also a great time to look at making sure that survival kit is stocked and ready, especially after the brief glimpse we all just had at what things might look like when the next big one strikes — whether it’s a quake, storm or Public Safety Power Shutoff.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Large Surf Headed to Local Beaches

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 10:58 AM

large_surf.png
The National Weather Office in Eureka is reminding Humboldt County residents of the oft-said mantra — never turn your back on the ocean — especially with the first major winter swell set to hit local beaches late today.

The west-northwest sets could hit heights of 16 to 20 feet for west-northwest facing beaches, with the largest waves expected to come ashore Thursday, but the swell will last through Friday, according to a NWS Facebook post.

“Increased wave action may overtop jetties and rocks, as well as enhance how far waves will run up beach slopes,” the post reads. “Remember, never turn your back to the ocean.”
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Resident in Critical Condition After House Fire Rescue

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 9:12 AM

A house fire left one person in critical condition. - HUMBOLDT BAY FIRE
  • Humboldt Bay Fire
  • A house fire left one person in critical condition.
Firefighters rescued one person from an early morning house fire after neighbors awoke to smoke and flames.

Humboldt Bay Fire crews arrived at the house on the 6300 block of Purdue Drive near Humboldt Hill about 12:45 a.m. to find the residence “well-involved in fire,” according to a release. After conducting a search, firefighters found one resident in the home. That person is in critical condition.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Losses were estimated at $250,000.

Read the Humboldt Bay Fire release below:


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Monday, October 14, 2019

UPDATE: Officials: The 'Outage' Letter Circulating on Social Media is Fake

Posted By on Mon, Oct 14, 2019 at 12:09 PM

UPDATE: It’s official. The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services says the letter is a fake.
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The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services says a letter that purports to PG&E about planned outages for Oct. 16-Oct.19 mak
No one wants to do this again anytime soon. - KALI COZYRIS
  • Kali Cozyris
  • No one wants to do this again anytime soon.
ing the rounds on social media “appears to be a fake.”

In a Facebook post, the agency says the letter, which was apparently sent to someone in Fortuna, is modeled after the real maintenance outage sent before shorter scheduled outages in a specific area.

HCOES says it has contacted PG&E.
Residents of Humboldt are, of course, just coming off the massive power outage that darkened the entire county last week.

Read the letter OES Emergency Services Manager Dorie Lanni sent to partner agencies and institutions:

We are aware that letters are being received by some Humboldt County residents ambiguously notifying three counties of a power outage scheduled for three days, October 16-19. This is a fake letter modeled after the real letters that PG&E sends to customers when there is a scheduled outage in their area. I asked PG&E to confirm all scheduled outages in Humboldt County, when they are scheduled, and in what areas. So far, I am aware of one short-term maintenance outage on October 27, and such scheduled outages typically affect a smaller area for only a few hours.

This is the statement that PG&E will be issuing:

“There is a fraudulent PG&E letter alerting customers of an upcoming planned outage for maintenance work, starting on the 16th, which indicates it could impact several counties. This letter is a fake and there is no such outage or Public Safety Power Shutoff planned. This letter has been widely shared on social media and indicates an extended county-wide outage.

PG&E does routinely schedule planned power outages for maintenance. In order for crews to safety make repairs, we have to de-energize the line in targeted areas. Customers will receive a letter several days in advance directly to their address we have on file.

In addition, the letter in question has a return address of Fortuna. Again, there is not a planned outage scheduled for Fortuna for October 16-19.

We have our Corporate Security department looking into the origins of the letter. Thank you.”



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Friday, October 11, 2019

UPDATE: Humboldt County is Fully Re-Powered

Posted By on Fri, Oct 11, 2019 at 11:49 AM

FOURTH UPDATE:
The power may be back on but the outage took its toll on perishable food in refrigerators across the region. The county Department of Health and Human Services wants CalFresh recipients to know they can apply to have those losses replaced by phoning the call center at (877) 410-8809 or going into the office at 929 Koster St. in Eureka to start the process. The deadline is Oct. 21.
calfresh.jpg
THIRD UPDATE:
Pacific Gas and Electric restored power to the eastern stretches of Humboldt County yesterday afternoon, with Willow Creek, Hoopa and Orleans all seeing the return of electric service by 4 p.m.

According to Deputy County Administrative Officer Sean Quincey, it now appears power has been restored to the entirety of the county.

SECOND UPDATE:
The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services says PG&E has notified local officials that repairs on the two major transmission lines that power Humboldt have been completed and “they are currently working to re-energize all Humboldt County customers as quickly as possible today.”

UPDATE:
For those looking for PG&E’s community resource center at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds this morning, you might need a little help finding it, as it’s tucked in the back with nary a sign to help guide the way.

The center, which opened at 8 a.m., a handful of hours after power was restored to the vast majority of the county, consists of a trailer and a tent tucked on the eastern edge of the property, between the BMX track and the raceway (see the area circled in red on the map below). As of about 9:30 a.m., the only folks there were a few PG&E employees and a pair of private security guards milling about the center, which is offering water and electronic device charging to anyone who needs it.
GOOGLE MAPS SCREENSHOT
  • Google Maps screenshot
Meanwhile, power remained out in the eastern stretches of the county as of earlier this morning (PG&E’s outage maps currently appear to be on the fritz, so updates are hard to find). Officials with the county and PG&E have been so far unable to provide any timetable for restoration to the areas along state routes 299 and 96, including Willow Creek and Hoopa.

A look at PG&E's very empty community resource center Thursday morning. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • A look at PG&E's very empty community resource center Thursday morning.

The Humboldt County Office of Education recently sent out a revised lists of schools that are open today, which can be found here.

College of the Redwoods will be back on a normal schedule tomorrow at all sites but the downtown Eureka location, Community and Workforce Education, is open, according to a release.

Power has also been restored to Humboldt State University, but the campus will remain closed today but open back up Friday.  The Health Center Rec Center, Nelson Hall East are now back open for students and a free dinner will also be offered for students, faculty and staff at the J from 4 to 8:30 p.m.

PREVIOUSLY:
Most of Humboldt County is waking up with the lights on.

After just about 24 hours without power, lights flickered on in Eureka at about 12:30 a.m., followed by McKinleyville around 3:30 a.m. As of 6:40 a.m., power had been restored to the vast majority of the county, with the exception of the inland stretch on State Route 299 from the county line through Willow Creek and up State Route 96 through Hoopa and Orleans. (Iłwai kiliwh market is open as is the Hoopa Mini Mart and Service Station, for those needing gas and supplies out there.) Oh, and there’s one customer near Fortuna who, for some unclear reason, PG&E’s map still lists as having a safety related outlet.
A screenshot at 6:40 a.m. of PG&E's outage map in Humboldt County. - SCREENSHOT/PG&E
  • Screenshot/PG&E
  • A screenshot at 6:40 a.m. of PG&E's outage map in Humboldt County.
PG&E shut down power to hundreds of thousands of customers spread through 34 California counties, including an estimated 60,000 in Humboldt County, beginning early Tuesday morning in an effort to prevent wildfires amid windy, dry weather conditions. The company had indicated Monday that Humboldt County would not be included in the blackout, only to reverse course later in the day, leaving county residents little time to prepare.

Tuesday evening and throughout Wednesday, gas stations saw lines spill from their lots and stretch in to the streets, sometimes for blocks, as stores saw runs on bottled water, food and ice. The blackout prompted business closures throughout the county, and most county schools will be shuttered today, with all closures announced yesterday afternoon remaining in effect.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Humboldt County officials indicated the county was faring well thus far but urged safety, preparedness and caution, warning the blackout could stretch into or even through the weekend. But good news came late Wednesday, when PG&E indicated weather conditions had improved and it would begin the process of inspecting lines and working to “re-energize” Humboldt County. About the same time, State Sen. Mike McGuire tweeted that power restoration would be starting that night.

Then in a wave, lights started flickering on, making Humboldt County, the first county in the state to lose power, the first to get it back in a blackout that PG&E cautions may be the new normal with a changing climate increasing wildfire risks.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Sen. McGuire: PG&E to Begin Restoring Power to Humboldt Tonight

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 6:54 PM

Restoration of electrical service to Humboldt County will begin tonight, according to North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire.

McGuire tweeted at about 6:20 p.m. that the process may take several hours as PG&E conducts line inspections, adding that restoration to Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, Trinity and Marin counties will begin tomorrow afternoon. Other sources not authorized to speak publicly about the situation told the Journal that PG&E had deemed weather conditions safe to launch survey flights late this afternoon to inspect the lines, a necessary step before restoring power.

A conference call to brief the press set up by PG&E scheduled for 6 p.m. was inaccessible to some reporters, including the North Coast Journal, which got only a busy signal when trying to dial in. According to local reporter Kym Kemp, who was listening to the call, a PG&E representative indicated Humboldt County could see power restored tonight but made no guarantees.

The county of Humboldt, meanwhile, sent out a press release immediately following PG&E's press call indicating the company is "reporting that it has been given the 'all clear' to immediately begin the process to restore power to the county." The press release warns, however, that this doesn't mean power will immediately be returned to Humboldt and residents should continue to plan to spend at least tonight without power.

"While PG&E can use the same restoration techniques for this event as it uses for general storms, this is a significant outage and therefore restoration for Humboldt will happen in phases," the press release states. "Some residents may begin receiving power restoration as early as tonight, but full restoration may take several days."

Electrical service to Humboldt County customers shut off shortly after midnight this morning as a part of PG&E’s efforts to prevent wildfire, which saw the company shut down its power grids in at least parts of 34 California counties, affecting hundreds of thousands of customers.

The barren shelves at Eureka's WalMart on Tuesday evening. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • The barren shelves at Eureka's WalMart on Tuesday evening.

Power has been out throughout Humboldt County for much of the day, prompting runs on gas and groceries, as residents braced for what officials warned could be five days or more without electricity.

The Humboldt County Office of Education posted a notice on Facebook notifying parents that all county schools and districts will be closed Thursday with the exceptions of Blue Lake School District, Eureka City Schools, Fortuna Union School District, Klamath Trinity Joint Unified School District (except Trinity Valley Elementary, which will be closed), Kneeland School, Mattole School District, Redwood Coast Montessori, Orick School, Maple Creek and South Union School District.

From the county of Humboldt:

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is reporting that it has been given the “all clear” to immediately begin the process to restore power to the county. Please note that this does not mean that electricity will be restored immediately to the entire county. To be clear, residents should plan for another night without power. While PG&E can use the same restoration techniques for this event as it uses for general storms, this is a significant outage and therefore restoration for Humboldt will happen in phases. Some residents may begin receiving power restoration as early as tonight, but full restoration may take several days.

Roads:

In the event that you encounter a traffic signal that has been impacted by the Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS) event and it is not working, please treat it as a four-way stop. Do not just drive through the intersection without stopping. Slow down as you drive during the outage as it may be difficult to see traffic signals that are not working. Stop, and look both ways when you come to an intersection before you proceed.

Law enforcement officers will conduct additional patrols to ensure public safety, which remains Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services (Sheriff’s OES) first priority. Drive slowly, and use caution on roadways. Avoid driving if possible. Roads should remain clear for emergency responders.

Be cautious when using a portable heater, and make sure generators and propane stoves are placed in well-ventilated areas. Never leave candles unattended. Service restoration can cause power surges. Use caution when power is restored and watch for fire hazards as appliances come back online.

Go to prepareforpowerdown.com or call 1-877-9000-PGE for information on PSPS or to sign up for alerts. Follow Sheriff’s OES Facebook page for the latest information. facebook.com/HumboldtCountyOES

City Updates:

Rio Dell asks that residents reduce water usage in order to conserve generator fuel.
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Getting Food During the Blackout

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 12:41 PM

At 9 a.m., rows of shopping carts blocked the glass doors of a darkened WinCo Foods. Staff there said a generator could power lights but that was it.

Across the street, a dozen people lined up on foot at the Happy Donuts drive-through window for miraculously hot coffee. Owner Natalie Dy, who hooked up her fryers to a generator in preparation for the potentially days-long PG&E blackout, and one staffer were busily shuttling doughnuts and counting cash — only cash.
The blocked doors at WinCo. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The blocked doors at WinCo.
Finding food is hit or miss all over the county, as is paying with anything but cash. Here's a partial list of what grocery stores and markets are open. We'll keep updating as we get information. If you need emergency water, bathrooms or electric charging, PG&E is setting up a resource center.


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UPDATE: County Officials Urge Residents to Stay Safe, 'Take Care of Your Neighbors' During Blackout

Posted By and on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 12:11 PM

UPDATE:
According to Pacific Gas and Electric spokesperson Deanna Contreras, the company will only be opening one community resource center in Humboldt County — not the two previously indicated — and it won’t be up and running until 8 a.m. tomorrow.

The center will be located at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds and will offer bottled water, restrooms and an electric charging station.

Humboldt Bay Fire is also opening up a charging station for medical and other electronic devices at its classroom at 3030 L St. in Eureka.

PREVIOUSLY:
At a press conference this morning, Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal urged the public to remain calm amid a Pacific Gas and Electric power outage that is expected to last at least through tomorrow afternoon and may stretch in to next week.

“This is a power outage. This is not a public emergency,” he said, urging residents to refrain from calling 911 unless there is a true emergency.

The sheriff further emphasized that PG&E is the best source of information for estimates as to when power may be restored to Humboldt County and urged the public to check the company’s website, which has been spotty since the company announced the shutdowns across much of the state Monday afternoon. Humboldt County was added to the list that has now grown to 34 counties on Tuesday, when the company realized that shutting down transmission lines in neighboring counties in an effort to prevent wildfires would sever Humboldt from the grid, cutting power to most of the county.

Lines stretch down the street at a gas station in Arcata. - KALI COZYRIS
  • Kali Cozyris
  • Lines stretch down the street at a gas station in Arcata.
Honsal said the county Office of Emergency Services has been activated and will work to get information out to the public as quickly as possible, posting updates on its Facebook page, including information on open stores and gas stations.

PG&E is opening community resource centers today at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds and College of the Redwoods, where residents can get bottled water, use restrooms and charge medical and other electronic devices. Additionally, Humboldt Bay Fire is opening a charging station in its classroom at 3030 L St. in Eureka. But Honsal emphasized that the centers are not shelters.

Humboldt County Public Health Officer Donald Baird said all local skilled nursing facilities and hospitals are operating on generators, and that the county Department of Health and Human Services is planning to do home visits to check on vulnerable patients.

“We are trying to avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room,” he said.

Baird urged residents to “stay home” if they don’t need to go out and to “be safe.”

“Take care of your neighbors,” he said. “If you have an operational generator, share your power.”

County Administrative Officer Amy Nilsen said most county offices will be closed to the public at least through today, including libraries. The Humboldt County Superior Court is also closed today, though the airport in McKinleyville is open and, a few slight delays aside, fully operational.
The vacant parking lot in front of a shuttered WinCo Foods on Wednesday morning. - KALI COZYRIS
  • Kali Cozyris
  • The vacant parking lot in front of a shuttered WinCo Foods on Wednesday morning.
Nilsen said the county is trying to conserve the energy resources it has to keep the jail and other essential services operational.

Humboldt Bay Fire Chief Bill Reynolds urged the public to be “hyper vigilant” while using alternative lighting and heating sources through the blackout, and local Calfire Chief Kurt McCray cautioned that the county is under a red flag warning for dangerous fire conditions.

“The real test for us is going to be the next 48 to 72 hours,” he said, prompting Honsal to chime in to urge residents to call 911 immediately if they see a fire.

According to the National Weather Service, highs in Eureka are expected to reach 61 degrees today, with winds of up to 15 mph.

Honsal said this blackout, which officials expect to last at least through tomorrow afternoon, after which it could take PG&E up to five days to restore power to its entire grid, stands as a reminder of how dependent Californians are on the utility company. He said local government will have to look at how to improve redundant resources here in the future, adding that PG&E hasn’t given him a direct explanation of why the Humboldt Bay Power Plant couldn’t be used to provide electricity to local customers amid the blackout in other parts of the state.

Overall, officials indicated things have gone smoothly, given the blackout and the short notice PG&E provided local residents.

“So far, knock on wood, things have been managed,” Honsal said.

We’ll continue to post additional information throughout the day so check back for updates.
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3rd UPDATE: PG&E to Open ONE Local Resource Center with Water, Bathrooms During Blackout

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 7:40 AM

3rd UPDATE:
According to Pacific Gas and Electric spokesperson Deanna Contreras, the company will only be opening one community resource center in Humboldt County — not the two previously indicated — and it won’t be up and running until 8 a.m. tomorrow.

The center will be located at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds and will offer bottled water, restrooms and an electric charging station.

Humboldt Bay Fire is also opening up a charging station for medical and other electronic devices at its classroom at 3030 L St. in Eureka.


2nd UPDATE:
The city of Arcata has announced that Arcata House Partnership is open and will be oeffering lunch and dinner until 6 p.m. to community members in need today at its annex, located at 501 Ninth St.

Additionally, the nonprofit is partnering with the Arcata Police Department to deliver meals to community members with mobility or transportation challenges. To arrange for delivery, call Arcata House at 298-7610 or APD at 822-2424.

UPDATE:
Pacific Gas and Electric will be opening two community resource centers today, offering bottled water, restrooms and electronic device charging stations, at College of the Redwoods and Redwood Acres Faigrounds during the ongoing blackout, according to Humboldt County Deputy Administrative Officer Sean Quincey.

With Humboldt County having gone dark around 1 a.m. as a part of PG&E’s massive grid shutdown to prevent wildfires, which is impacting customers in 34 California counties, the county is holding a press conference at 10:30 a.m. to provide additional information. But Quincey told the Journal that the county will also be setting up a medical device charging station at 3030 L St. in Eureka.

Quincey urged local residents not to call 911 unless there is a critical incident or medical emergency. Additionally, the county is asking residents to conserve water and sewer service.

For those in need of supplies to get through the blackout, which is expected to last at least into tomorrow afternoon and may extend into next week, a few stores and gas stations are open this morning, running on generator power. Specifically, Target in Eureka, Murphy’s Markets in Sunny Brae and Westwood in Arcata, and Valley Grocery in Ferndale are confirmed to be open, as is Blue Lake Rancheria’s gas station near Blue Lake Casino.

The North Coast Community Blood Bank, meanwhile, is in need of donations and remains open, with bloodmobiles at Hoopa High School from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Arcata Co-Op from noon to 4 p.m.

And for those needing something to get them through the blackout, EcoCann dispensary in Old Town Eureka will be open all day.

“Everything else may be closed, but this is Humboldt County!” exclaimed one excited man leaving the dispensary around 9 a.m.

Check back shortly for additional information from this morning’s press conference and scroll down below our original post to see a full press release from the county.

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