SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Fire season now means power outages in California. As utility companies plan for Public Safety Public Shutoffs (PSPS) to reduce the fire threat, local agencies are taking steps to ensure citizens will have access to vital services in case of a blackout.
On Wednesday, Moorpark Highway Patrol tweeted its phone lines were down because of an outage. Santa Maria Police says it's prepared in case something similar happens in Santa Maria.
“There's backup power supplies and resources that we could continue operations for an extended period of time, even with utilities cut," said Lt. Russell Mengle of Santa Maria Police.
The generator at PD is one of about two dozen available in Santa Maria.
“The Fire Department, they have back up generators. City hall, the library has back up generators," said City spokesman, Mark van de Kamp.
Van de Kamp says staff has been checking the generators are ready to go.
“We've been in contact with vendors from which we purchase fuel and other supplies to make sure that –to the degree it's possible –that we are filled up."
There are also back up generators to continue to pump water if power goes out.
“We go through about 9 million gallons a day. If the power were to go out, we would still endeavor to provide safe drinking water, and also to treat the waste water that goes to our waste water treatment plant," said van de Kamp.
The city is hoping to add more resources, as well.
“We're also looking at grants and other opportunities to purchase more of those assets to harden our facilities," said van de Kamp.
Lt. Mengel says they do worry about burglaries in case of a PSPS, but the department is prepared to increase staffing under such circumstances.
When it comes to traffic safety, “eventually, those [stop] lights are gonna go out, too," said Mengle. "When someone comes to an intersection and the lights are out, handle it as you would a stop sign.”
“Everyone needs to be aware that life will not be the same during a power outage," said van de Kamp.
Officials at PG&E remind customers to take their own precautions. A California Public Utilities Commission Fire Map shows several areas on the Central Coast are labeled under 'elevated' and 'extreme' fire risk.
“Let's keep our fingers crossed it doesn't hit us here on the Central Coast," said Mengle.
The City of Santa Maria is hosting a number of emergency preparedness workshops:
Tuesdays November 12th and 26th, and December 10th at 2-3:30 p.m.
For more information, call the Recreation and Parks Department: 805-925-0951 ext. 2260.
Other resources can be found on the City's website.
“It's never too early to start getting ready," said van de Kamp.