L.A. County residents without power since Friday ask why the city can’t do better
The Wachs family’s power went out at 10:20 p.m. on Friday, just before the ferocity of this weekend’s epic storm peaked, lashing Southern California with record winds, rain and snow.
By 7 p.m. on Sunday — 45 hours after they lost electricity and hot water — the family of five’s home in Tarzana was still cold and dark. Hannah Wachs and her husband, Jeffrey, spent Saturday checking the power utility’s outage map over and over again, tracking the ever-changing estimate of when their lights would come back on, and whether a crew had been assigned to fix their blackout.
“My husband and I would get different robo calls from LADWP,” Wachs said. “His call said the power would come back on at 2:30 p.m., but then I would get another call a few minutes later saying that it would be a long time before anything happened.”
The Wachses sent their three daughters — ages 11, 14 and 6 — to friends’ homes so they could stay warm and get homework done. Meanwhile, a large uprooted tree in their neighborhood that took down power lines lay in the street, unattended. Wachs said she’d driven by the tree many times, but she’s spotted no crews yet.
A Department of Water and Power worker was injured Saturday in the San Fernando Valley. About 27,600 customers remained without power Monday morning.
An estimated 46,000 Los Angeles County residences were still without power Sunday night, according to L.A. Department of Water and Power spokesperson Ellen Cheng. The power of around 118,000 customers had been restored since the start of the storm, she said.
Many customers took to social media over the weekend, outraged that their electricity had been out for nearly two days. Some feared that their insulin and other medications would be rendered unusable without refrigeration, while others, like the Waches, saw hundreds of dollars’ worth of groceries go bad.
“In the grand scheme of the world, this is so small potatoes,” Wachs said. “But I would like to think that our city could do better.” As of Sunday at 8 p.m., the DWP’s outage map indicated that 574 customers in Tarzana were without power, and it wouldn’t be restored until 2:30 p.m. the next day.
According to the DWP’s website, customers can expect crews to respond within 24 to 48 hours, but the utility also says that it may take longer to restore their power than the maps indicate.
“As our work crews navigate through downed trees and power lines to restore service, the estimated restoration times provided on our outage map may not reflect current field conditions and the work that must be done to make repairs,” the agency tweeted Sunday afternoon.
All roads inside the park have been restricted to administrative use only.
In another tweet Sunday, the utility explained that rain and heavy winds knocked down trees, power lines and poles, and that crews must clear the trees and debris before they can restore service — “which takes time and slows outage restoration work,” the DWP said. “Crews have prioritized restoration work involving broken or downed power poles and power lines as those incidents pose a public hazard.”
Other outages were caused by flooding of underground electrical systems. Crews must go from vault to vault to identify the source of the damage, “which can also be time-consuming,” the utility said. “We know that this is frustrating and we appreciate your patience as we work to restore service.”
For her part, Wachs said she knows that the DWP can’t perform miracles. “I get it, it’s a lot and it’s hard,” she said. “But they saw this coming. Can’t they go into overdrive a little bit?”
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