Peninsula power outages could last until Friday

Residents on the Peninsula from Burlingame and Hillsborough up to San Bruno faced another night without lights, heat and internet access on Wednesday after the power went out the day before in the lastest powerful wind storm.

"It's been no power since yesterday afternoon," said Daniel Gamez, a Burlingame resident who lives along El Camino Real. "This has happened every time there's a strong wind."

Strong wind gusts brought down two massive eucalyptus trees on El Camino Real Tuesday.

The trunks measuring more than 4 feet in diameter, demolished a parked truck and a car, narrowly missing several houses, and taking down an entire section of power lines.

Tens of thousands of people scrambled to find food, internet access, and places to charge mobile phones Wednesday.

"I have an elderly father, 94. We're in the dark with flashlights and candles," said a woman named Rosemary who lives in San Bruno.

Those people with no way to cook made a run to the grocery stores that did have power.

"We just couldn't put anything in the oven or in the microwave because that uses too much power. And you know, we'd started a load of laundry and so that's all wet, draped around the house because we couldn't use the dryer," said David Agard, a Burlingame resident who was making a trip to Safeway to get food. 

Adults doing work and students doing homework crowded into the public library, where staff tried to accommodate the increased demand for desks and people needing internet access.

"Sitting on the floors with laptops trying to get work done...we've brought out chairs from our community room, extra tables," said Burlingame's city librarian Bradley McCulley, "Done everything we can to create more space."

PGE's website says power might not come back until Friday. Exasperated customers wonder why PG&E doesn't have more crews or take steps to prevent repeated outages.

"It would be even better if we had the power lines buried," said Agard, "They'd be resistant from storms like this."

"It's extremely expensive to underground utilities measured in millions per mile," said Burlingame Mayor Michael Brownrigg.

Brownrigg says years ago, after seeing the dangers of trees and power lines, the city decided to take their own action.

"We've been working with Caltrans for five years to renovate El Camino, which we hope will begin next year.  And as part of that project, we'll underground the entire utility line," said Mayor Brownrigg.

PG&E says they prioritize the outages, responding to the biggest and the longest outages first, but it still could be Friday before the lights come back on.