Jenny Cavaliere has lived in Oregon House for 30 years and owns and operates High Sierra Beef. Wednesday morning, in the midst of the latest Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power shutoff, she said she has seven freezers of raw meat that are at risk of being lost if the shutoff continues.
Hers is just one of thousands of perspectives on the shutoff – the biggest, yet, and affecting some 8,000 customers in Yuba County.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company began shutting off power for more than half a million customers just after midnight Wednesday, impacting 22 counties including Colusa and Yuba counties, according to a news release.
Yuba County public information officer Russ Brown said – more in Yuba County than in previous recent shutoffs. And portions of east Marysville were included, Brown said.
Brown said Wednesday afternoon that anyone whose power was still on would most likely not have their power turned off by PG&E – but that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be an outage.
The rest of Marysville, Linda and Olivehurst were not included in the latest shutoff, according to Brown. He said crews will start inspecting power lines this afternoon, but because PG&E resources have been spread thin with the size of this shutoff, it may take until Saturday for power to be restored to all customers.
According to Hannah Chandler-Cooley with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, a red flag warning will be in effect until 5 p.m. today.
Chandler-Cooley said there haven’t been many weather updates since Tuesday when the NWS warned of extreme fire weather conditions for Wednesday and Thursday. Reports from Beale Air Force Base and Yuba County Airport tracked wind gusts of up to 25-30 miles per hour on Wednesday, according to Chandler-Cooley.
Winds could reach 35-45 mph today but are expected to calm down through the afternoon and die down completely overnight and into Friday, Chandler-Cooley said.
The Alcouffe Center, located on Marysville Road in Oregon House, was open Wednesday for Yuba County residents to charge their electronic devices and access the internet.
That’s where Cavaliere talked about her business and her frozen beef. She said she makes her living from her business and if the shutoff lasts more than 30 hours her meat will be compromised. She called PG&E’s claims department about her concerns and was informed that PG&E could not guarantee constant service to its customers.
Cavaliere plans to reach out to Congressman John Garamendi about possibly being compensated for her loss.
“It’s going to hurt me,” Cavaliere said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Solee MacIsaac’s husband, Robert, works from their home in Oregon House and instead of driving 45 minutes into town to Starbucks, set up shop at the center. The MacIsaac’s home is without power but they still have access to water and have a gas stove. She said the biggest issue is their refrigerator not working.
“Everything in the refrigerator dies,” MacIsaac said. “How do you eat?”
MacIsaac is no stranger to fire danger in Yuba County. She moved to Oregon House in 1977 and had her trailer park home burn down in 1992 due, she said, to a PG&E power surge, and had another home burn in 1997 from a wildfire. She questioned whether the shutoffs were actually an effective way to deal with the risk.
“It doesn’t stop wildfires,” MacIsaac said. “It maybe stops them being caused by PG&E.”
Other residents staying at the center said schools in the area were closed on Wednesday and would be closed on today.
Peter Stocker just moved from Yuba City to Loomis and runs Tuff Stuff Jerky Company in Brownsville. He had to send his nine employees home and stop operations for the rest of the week because of the shutoff.
On Wednesday afternoon, Stocker was moving raw meat into a 40-foot refrigerator powered by a generator he had to rent for $400. His home in Loomis is without power and he doesn’t have a generator at home.
He is hoping to have the store up and running by Monday but it depends on when PG&E turns the power back on.
“They’re pretty good about when they’re going to turn it off but not very good about when they’re going to turn it on,” Stocker said.