It’s become a common experience for Santa Cruz residents to suddenly find themselves in the dark, experiencing a blackout with little warning. Whether it’s due to the rolling blackouts earlier in the summer, or various severe weather occurrences, blackouts have occurred this summer and over the past two years.
“It wasn’t surprising anymore,” said Dylan Oshima, who lived in Santa Cruz until late September. “You have to get used to it and adapt, in case it happens suddenly.”
Last week, 13,872 Santa Cruz residents, along with 361,000 other northern Californians, were subjected to blackouts due to severe winds. The blackouts lasted from Sunday morning until early Tuesday. The time a resident’s power actually got shut off depended on where they were in the city, county, or state. The majority of blackouts that affected Santa Cruz County occurred in the Scotts Valley area.
Some residents are concerned about how to adapt if blackouts continue through the winter.
“If it continues through December, you have to prepare with clothing, flashlights, candles, anything that helps you when it gets colder and darker,” said Santa Cruz resident Aleksey Groussard. “While that is the worst possible outcome, it is something I’m keeping in mind.”
PG&E set up 106 Community Resource Centers (CRCs) in affected counties to help residents with the impact of the blackouts between Oct. 24 and Oct. 26.
In Santa Cruz, one of the Community Resource Centers was set up at the local Costco on Sylvania Ave. PG&E used the site for the same purpose last year, though this time they provided more open space to allow for COVID-19 safety precautions. According to a PG&E press release, these temporary CRCs provide WiFi, bottled water, snacks, restrooms, and charging stations.
“We’re in the area and we have a large parking lot, so it made sense,” said Jeremy Christiansen, the manager of the local Costco.
Around 300 people utilized this center during the blackout.
“[People] appreciated it,” Christiansen continued. “PG&E told us stories about kids being able to go there and use it as a place to charge devices, so they can all do work. It was a big resource for people that needed it.”
There are currently no blackouts planned for the future, though that could change at any time, depending on weather events, such as high winds. If this happens, it’s likely that PG&E will implement rolling blackouts to help prevent wildfires from starting.