Piece of Mind: Edison leaves lots to be desired

The feeling has returned to our cold-numbed fingers and our teeth have stopped chattering, but the outrage still lingers over Southern California Edison’s reaction to damage caused by the windstorm that pounded us on Nov. 30.

As I write this, some homes in La Cañada Flintridge and in other area communities remain without power — a week after we were pummeled by Mother Nature in what weather experts tell us is a once-every-decade (or so) occurrence.

At our house off Angeles Crest, we were without lights and heat for almost 60 hours after the power was lost at about 9:20 p.m. a week ago Wednesday. As disturbing as that was for us and our neighbors, it didn’t hold a candle to the discomfort and inconvenience our counterparts south of Foothill experienced. If I were in the shoes of those Flintridge-area souls, I’d have gone around the bend by now.

It wasn’t so bad that first night that we were left in the dark. The wind had been howling, so we had flashlights at the ready and could manage to find our way to bed where the covers could keep us warm. But when dawn broke Thursday and the power was still out, I started to feel beleaguered. Gil appeared to be wincing, a look that continued around the clock for the duration of our outage.

A quick look outdoors showed pretty much the same impact that just about every other property in town did: It was quite a mess. We discovered one large tree limb down, the pool was full of debris, and outdoor furnishings were upturned. Mature liquidambar trees in our yard and the garden next door had been stripped of most of their leaves and thousands of their hard, round green fruit were all over the ground — it felt as though we were slip-sliding over prickly golf balls as we made our way across the lawn and driveway.

The Valley Sun office, along with the other businesses lining Foothill, was without power all day Thursday. I worked offline here, breaking in the early afternoon to drive around so that I could see for myself what other damage the winds had wreaked. It was quite a bit, but not as much as we were hearing about in news reports from Pasadena. I headed up to the country club to see if they’d had any damage, but found the clubhouse doors locked tight. That night I drove through several eerily dark La Cañada neighborhoods and it occurred to me that burglars would be thrilled to know they could carry on their nefarious work without being seen.

On Friday morning the traffic light at Commonwealth and Foothill was working as I approached that intersection from our still darkened (and freezing) house. This, I thought, was a very good sign, and it was: I was able to buy coffee at McDonald’s and work online at our heated office that day. But there was still no power at home that night. Nor was there any when we awoke Saturday. It was after Gil left to forage Foothill for our coffee fix that morning that I heard the click-click-click sound of our heating system engaging and realized power had returned to our house.

It wasn’t until sometime Sunday, though, that we felt relatively normal again. It took that long for us to shake off the unexpected stress caused by being without heat and light. For this reason I feel especially bad for those who have had to endure a much longer outage and with little help in terms of clear information from SCE. I share in their calls for Edison to improve communications when there is an outage, do a better job of keeping power lines free of vegetation before winds hit, and get serious about undergrounding equipment wherever feasible. We expect better from this public utility.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the La Cañada Valley Sun. She can be reached at ccormaci@valleysun.net or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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