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No traffic lights and days of darkness. Here's how life has changed inside Northern California's power shutoff

California's biggest utility has cut power to hundreds...

Posted: Oct 10, 2019 8:43 AM
Updated: Oct 10, 2019 10:00 AM

California's biggest utility has cut power to hundreds of thousands of residents to prevent wildfires, catching some by surprise despite months of warnings.

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A forecast of strong winds is posing a major fire danger, prompting Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to launch the preventive outage to reduce the risk of blazes set off by power lines, the company said.

Here are some answers to key questions:

How long will the outages last?

At least a week for some.

The wind is expected to subside Friday, and PG&E crews will then examine their system for damage and begin to restore power for customers. That could take several days after the wind dies down, company officials said.

How many people will be affected?

PG&E cut power Wednesday to nearly 800,000 customers in Northern California, beginning a series of planned outages.

By the time the sequence of outages is over, nearly 2 million people could be affected as it drags on for days, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said. Customers across 34 counties will be affected.

Why deliberately turn off power?

Some of the deadliest fires in Northern California have been blamed on downed power lines.

Last year's devastating Camp Fire that killed 85 people and destroyed thousands of structures was started by electrical lines owned by PG&E. The company filed for bankruptcy in January as it came under pressure from billions of dollars in claims tied to deadly wildfires.

To avoid being blamed for another wildfire, some utilities have decided to cut power during high winds when the fire risk is elevated. In addition to PG&E, utility company Southern California Edison is also turning off power to a small number of people in affected areas.

Will people be able to charge their phones?

PG&E has set up about 30 community centers that are providing services including air conditioning, restrooms, bottled water and electronic charging stations.

How about traffic lights -- are they working?

Probably not in affected areas, so don't try to get on the roads, the San Jose mayor said. If you reach an intersection without a working street light, treat it as a four-way stop, Liccardo said.

Gas stations and ATMs will also be down during the shutoff, he said.

Will it affect cell phone service?

With the power out, residents will mainly rely on their phones for updates and communication with loved ones. And major cell phone companies say they're working to ensure the cell service does not go off, too.

Major companies, such as Sprint and T-Mobile, said they have generators available at major cell sites to ensure they remain in service and they're deploying generators to those that don't have them.

'We have permanent generators in key cell sites to ensure they remain in service and other sites are prepared with battery backup,' T-Mobile says.

What public facilities will be closed?

Police, fire, water, sewer and garbage-pickup services will continue, and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system isn't expected to shut down, though some stations may face escalator outage.

A number of schools canceled classes on Thursday, including UC Berkeley and Sonoma State University. All schools in the Napa Valley and Cloverdale unified school districts, along with some Santa Rosa schools, will be closed Thursday, as well.

People who rely on medical devices are urged to get them charged at community centers that will remain powered, officials said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 69374

Reported Deaths: 1989
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5700119
DeSoto371031
Harrison260136
Madison245569
Jackson231444
Rankin230735
Jones193159
Forrest182656
Washington170142
Lee152142
Lauderdale141592
Neshoba128892
Lamar123115
Bolivar113635
Oktibbeha113339
Warren112535
Lowndes109239
Panola106816
Sunflower105625
Scott101120
Lafayette98719
Copiah96228
Leflore94966
Pike94037
Holmes91049
Grenada85123
Pontotoc8429
Yazoo84113
Lincoln83442
Monroe82155
Simpson80631
Leake79526
Coahoma78113
Wayne78021
Tate74330
Marshall7129
Marion68420
Union66216
Adams63225
Winston62916
Covington62214
George5956
Pearl River55940
Newton54511
Tallahatchie54111
Attala52725
Walthall50221
Chickasaw47619
Noxubee46112
Tishomingo4377
Alcorn4355
Calhoun4259
Prentiss42310
Claiborne40914
Smith40613
Hancock40214
Clay40114
Jasper3949
Itawamba38710
Tippah37414
Tunica3587
Clarke33626
Montgomery3295
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31610
Humphreys29712
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25612
Perry2428
Amite2376
Webster23712
Kemper23314
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21513
Stone2115
Sharkey2045
Jefferson1957
Benton1451
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena272
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 100801

Reported Deaths: 1814
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13366246
Mobile10581212
Montgomery6825151
Madison546934
Tuscaloosa426979
Unassigned392566
Baldwin367029
Shelby333437
Marshall319438
Lee270847
Morgan241819
Etowah218034
DeKalb183414
Calhoun181918
Elmore176039
Walker154465
Houston142813
Russell13892
St. Clair136320
Limestone135913
Dallas133624
Franklin129722
Cullman123012
Colbert121517
Lauderdale119020
Autauga116222
Escambia108817
Talladega105414
Jackson10264
Tallapoosa87579
Chambers84738
Dale84329
Clarke82610
Chilton8189
Blount8165
Butler77036
Coffee7656
Covington74021
Pike7137
Marion58226
Barbour5796
Lowndes57124
Marengo56616
Hale48526
Bullock48111
Winston45711
Perry4454
Bibb4445
Washington44412
Wilcox43410
Monroe4236
Pickens4089
Randolph40211
Conecuh39310
Sumter36618
Lawrence3542
Macon33914
Crenshaw3326
Choctaw28912
Cherokee2768
Clay2675
Geneva2652
Henry2643
Greene25211
Lamar2302
Fayette2235
Cleburne1291
Coosa1053
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