Storm Causes Thousands In Foothill Communities To Lose Power

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The power was flickering off and on for a third straight night in the Sierra foothills. From Grass Valley to Nevada City and Pollock Pines thousands are without power and it could be days before that changes.

"It was 9:40 at night but it was daylight. And, it was purple and red and it was changing colors," sparks flying and transformers exploding that's how 17 year old Nick Reyes remembers the moment the power went out in Grass Valley. Reyes was staying with a friend on Race Street "My friends house, he doesn't have a heating system and we're using fire places. But a lot of my friends don't have fire places. It's been like 40-35 degrees in that house all day," he says.

It was just after 9:30 Saturday night when the town went dark. Chaos reigned at stores filled with perishables like the Safeway on South Auburn Street "Oh yea, we were running around trying to get everything covered with plastic to keep the refrigerators going. We had a refrigerator truck come in and we were going to unload on to it. But the power came back on" says Sean Smith, a story employee.

Heavy snows still weigh on PG&E power lines above 1,500 feet. Countless power poles came down in the storm; others were sheered at the base in storm related accidents. "There's a lot of ice on the road. So, a lot of cars are hitting poles, poles falling. Tree limbs down over the wires," says PG&E linesman Steve Dale.

Repair crews are mobilizing throughout the Sierra. But uncovering the damage could take days; days without power. "It sucks. Freezing cold. Yea, miserable," says Julie Callison; she lost power for 16 hours between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Nick Reyes and his buddies managed to pass the time in the cold. "Toss it on the ground until it starts going and hop on," they took a couple of old snowboards and hit the hills at a nearby high school. But if he'd stayed home with mom; he'd have stayed warm. "One of the few; we live out in the sticks too so that was nice to have power," says Monica Reyes.

But power is a fragile thing in a storm like this. PG&E says new power outages are popping up every hour; and it could be Wednesday afternoon before service is returned to everyone currently without.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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