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Update 11:10 p.m.  SDG&E advises residents to turn off air conditioners to avoid overwhelming the system when power comes back on.  


BOIL WATER ORDERS are issued for several locations; scroll down for details. 

September 8, 2011 (San Diego) – A widespread power outage has left 5 million people in the dark across Southern California, Arizona and northern Mexico including all 1.4 million SDG&E customers in San Diego County. The outage occurred because a major power line between Arizona and California was tripped out of service. “Think of the system as linked by springs, when one part goes out the rest are affected," a Twitter message from SDG&E read. The San Onofre Power plant was also impacted and shut down as a precaution.


Tonight, power is beginning to be restored across portions of San Diego County including the South Bay, Rancho San Diego, Jamul and Mt. Helix areas. SDG&E blames the outage on “operator error.” FBI special agent Darrell Foxworth assures that there is no indication of terrorism.


A boil-water order has been issued in the following locations due to potential contamination from failed water pumps: Scripps-Miramar, Tierrasanta, San Carlos, Bernardo Heights, Scripps Ranch, La Jolla-Soledad, Otay Mesa and the SDSU College-College Grove area. Reduced water pressure in those areas was caused by the lack of backup generators at eight of 49 water pump stations around the city. When the water system gets depressurized, it allows backflow from homes and businesses -- sources that are potentially unsanitary, said Arian Collins, a spokesman for San Diego's water department, the Union-Tribune reports.


During a boil-water advisory, water used for drinking, infant formulas, preparing juices and ice cubes, washing fruits and vegetables, cooking or dental hygiene has to be held at a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Water can be boiled either in a pot or kettle on a stove, an electric kettle without an automatic shut-off.


Source: Boil-Water Order Issued for Some Communities | NBC San Diego


All schools in San Diego County area dvised to stay closed tomorrow. The airport remains closed and trolley service is shut down. San Diego Sheriff has advised deputies will not be able to respond to non-emergency calls at this time.

The San Diego County Water Authority has asked area residents to conserve water. Several water districts including Helix, Ramona, Fallbrook and Valley Center have ordered water be restricted to critical usage only with no outside watering tonight.

Gas stations in the impacted areas are not able to pump gas at electric-powered pumps. Many stores have experienced runs on water and food supplies and many shut their doors. Traffic on freeways was clogged during rush hour, as well as many surface streets where many street lights were out. Overall however San Diego Police have praised San Diegans for remaining level-headed during the emergency.

Residents are urged to avoid calling 911 except in emergency as emergency responders have been overwhelmed with calls. Minimize driving to save gas and limit cell phone calls to preserve your battery until power is restored.

The emergency points up the importance of having a 72-hour supply of food and water on hand, as well as a portable battery-powered radio for communications and a mobile phone able to receive text messages, as well as a family emergency plan.

East County Magazine’s office was impacted by the outage, which took down not only internet access at the office, but also internet access via cell phone and even land line phone service. All of our backup monitors around the county were also without power and internet access during this extraordinary event. ECM’s editor traveled to San Miguel Fire Dept. only to find its backup generator had failed to work. A San Miguel Fire-Safe Council member was able to restore his home power briefly with a generator and accessed the Internet long enough to send tweets on the ViejasAlerts Twitter account before his generator, too, failed.

If you are signed up to receive ViejasAlerts through e-mail, we urge that you also sign up to follow ViejasAlerts on Twitter as Twitter alerts, while briefer, can be activated faster and from more locations. You can receive them on your mobile device, if it has Internet during a power outage, even if your home or office computer is off-line. ECM is seeking a donation of a generator or money to purchase one to increase our coverage during future emergencies.

If you have information to share on this power outage, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.