Utility crews braced for outages from in latest Bay Area storm

Roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains on Tuesday, remained closed due to downed trees and utility lines.

As of late afternoon, PG&E had reported roughly 3,700 outages around the Bay Area, most of which were in San Francisco.

The utility mobilized crews to respond, while another service providers were out earlier in the day, working to restore service.

"What we’ve faced this year is unprecedented. We’ve seen so much damage. It’s been widespread. It’s been extensive," said Mayra Tostado, a PG&E spokeswoman.

PG&E officials said more than two-dozen employees have staffed its Emergency Operations Center in Cupertino.

They’re keeping an eye out for power outages, especially in areas prone to losing service due to winter storms, such as the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Tostado said extra equipment is staged at multiple service yards, as rain falling on already saturated soil, coupled with gusty winds, is creating familiar problems.

Thus far in 2023, the utility has removed four thousand downed trees, repaired 57-hundred power poles, and restrung 900 miles of power lines.

"So that’s a longer distance than going from the Giants home stadium to Dodger Stadium, and back. So as you can imagine, the damage has been impactful," said Tostado.

It’s not just electric service that’s seen sporadic outages. In Redwood Estates, the Frontier Communications Co., which sent crews north from L.A. County, is helping to reconnect locals who saw their landline service severed by a falling tree.

"From so much rain, the trees started to fall over, take out some of the lines. Take our poles down. It’s throughout … all through Los Gatos here," said Derek Wesseling, a company supervisor.

More rain Tuesday afternoon and into the evening is making the work more arduous, as utility companies struggle to fend off the next wave from Mother Nature.

"Now, in some areas where we have dozens of trees that area down, that area blocking roads, it could be some flash flooding or other issues, we might take to restore service to our customers because we can’t access our equipment," said Tostado.

The issue of falling trees is an elevated risk, so crews are moving cautiously, in case they have to scatter out of the way on a moments notice.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the South Bay bureau. Follow him on Twitter, @JesseKTVU and Instagram, @jessegontv.