Update 5:15 p.m. -- Power has been restored to all customers, according to the SDG&E website.
By Miriam Raftery
Photo by Fran Materra, via Facebook: Thanksgiving by lanternlight in Potrero
November 26, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – An estimated 2,520 SDG&E customers remain in the dark on Black Friday due to power-shut offs amid a red flag warning for high fire danger. About half the communities originally blacked out have power restored, but these areas remain without power: Alpine, Boulevard, the Campo reservation, Descanso, Jamul, Potrero, the Viejas Reservation, and Warner Springs.
More than 50,000 customers remain at risk of outages yet to come. View the list of communities at risk at https://www.sdge.com/psps-dashboard. SDG&E has set up community resource centers where residents without power can go to recharge devices, pickup ice, water, snacks and more. Find the closest CRC at SDG&E’s CRC look-up tool.
East County residents posted comments and complaints on social media regarding the outages. While some railed against SDG&E for cutting power on a holiday, others pre-cooked foods early, grateful for the warnings. Others dined out at restaurants, brought in hot meals, or headed to relatives homes’ outside the blacked-out areas. Some also voiced thanks that no homes were lost to wildfires.
Left without power in Potrero, Fran Cooper Materra still managed to craft a holiday meal by hooking her stove up to a generator and serving the holiday feast by lantern light. On Facebook she wrote, “ A unique year-Thanksgiving Dinner by lantern light as we had no power, also no water to wash up anything. Still, in deep gratitude ~ a feast of Mac 'n Veggies & Cheese, Stuffing, Potato Salad, Garlic Bread, Fruit Salad, Homemade Cranberry Sauce, & Turkey stuffed w/ citrus, parsley, sage, & rosemary, with Sparkling Cider and Chef Rafael doing the honors.’
But Charles Barranco in Santee, in a comment posted on an ECM story on the outages anticipated, posted, "What SDG&E AND PG&E are allowed to do is SO WRONG! NO OTHER state would allow this." He added, "No excuse. All they care about is ANY liability. Happy Thanksgiving! Which it won't be if you have to cook your turkey on a Coleman stove!"
Kim Hamilton, editor of the Deerhorn Valley Antler south of Jamul, made the best of the situation and kept things in perspective. She wrote, “I was glad to have the 1-2 day notice we did. While most of us are pretty self-reliant during power outages, it’s the fire danger that is most worrying. So we spent Thanksgiving doing what we could to remove all flammable items away from the house & garage—patio furniture etc. Serious Santa Anas are always a bit of a gut check.” But she also voiced concerns about being downwind from Sunrise Powerlink high voltage lines that put her community at risk. Hamilton added that her household postponed its Thanksgiving feast until today due to the outage warnings.
Donna Tisdale in Boulevard wrote in an email to ECM, “Thankfully, my family has a generator so we can still cook our Thanksgiving dinner. But it is not cheap to fill up generators these days!”
However, Tisdale lamented, “SDG&E only has backcountry resource centers open in Descanso and Potrero. They shut our power off on Thanksgiving Day but folks in Boulevard and Jacumba are expected to drive 20 miles or so one way in high winds to get to a resource center?” She noted that the Golden Acorn Casino used to be a resource center and that some local residents asked SDG&E to use the Backcountry Resource Center in Boulevard as a resource center during power outages “so folks who wanted to avoid the tobacco smoke and alcohol temptations at the casino could still access a resource center. SDG&E reportedly declined.”
Murphy Smith in Boulevard, where power remains off today, visited an SDG&E resource center and voiced disappointment with the resul. "I just wanted to share a little photo of what SDGE believes can support a family of 4 when they shut down their (and thousands of other customers) power for 3 days during Thanksgiving. Minus one bottle of water because I was thirsty after driving the 30 miles from my home to their `emergency preparedness center', and minus the bag of ice they offered me which would matter very little to keep our fridge full of food safe. Please spare your platitudes, my family is roughened and resilient and we have generator and off grid supplemental backup, but there are many in our underserved border communities not so fortunate."
Smith adds,"SDGE has made ungodly amounts of profit which could have been put into improving the infrastructure, and only started turning the power off during high winds after they had to start facing the liability of the wildfires they are responsible for."