Sinkhole wreaks havoc on Moraga neighborhood; PG&E working to restore mass gas-line outage

- After a couple weeks of seemingly non-stop rain, the small East Bay town of Moraga is dealing with ongoing problems caused by the stormy weather. The latest headache came in the form of a sinkhole. 

The trouble started at Rheem and Central, where the sinkhole devoured a street corner to the tune of some 25 feet across and maybe 15-feet deep. It affected 2,500 PG&E customers, knocking out natural gas service for them. 

As of around 10 p.m., PG&E said they had restored gas to 1,200 customers. A crew of about 200 workers from across the state began their efforts at around 6 p.m. They said they’d end their work for the night around 11 p.m on Monday and pick back up Tuesday morning. Workers have been busy knocking on doors and leaving door hangers for residents who aren’t home to let them in. 

"Usually the first floor gets really cold. So it's always nice to have the heater," said Anne Patterson, a Moraga resident. 

 Moraga Police Chief Jon King said that the roadway has been undermined and that engineers will be looking at its structural integrity. 

The hole grew so big that it caused a street light to drop on a gas line, rupturing it. "It just barely missed the internet line too, so...would have been a disaster," laughed resident David White.

But the lack of gas has White and his great grand daughters making do.

"We didn't have any heat. But, you know, you can deal with that. But... No, it was interesting," he said.

Business owners have to take it in stride, as well. "We've already written today off," said Ted Fulmer.

The power was also knocked out to 35 customers, including Fulmer's restaurant, Graze Food Bar. "It's a big pain in the butt... Got to move everything into one refrigerator, throw ice on it. Threw away a bunch of stuff. And then getting back open when we get our power back on," he explained.

Restoring the gas is the biggest issue. It's a three-part process at each location. "The first step is a gas service representative will turn off the meter at the location. They also do a safety procedure. And they have to go back to that home or business and turning on the gas and that requires coming inside the home," said PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian.

PG&E says the 200 gas service representatives can restore the gas to 500 homes per hour. Those who aren't home and receive door hangers, will find information on how to set up an appointment to get a crew back out to finish the job.

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