Wind-related power outages persist in LA

AP News
Posted: Dec 07, 2011 1:53 PM
Wind-related power outages persist in LA

Utility crews worked to restore power to more than 2,000 customers in the hardest hit areas a week after one of the strongest windstorms in years ripped across Southern California, as anger over the prolonged outages grew.

Some 2,332 Southern California Edison customers remained without service Wednesday, down from a high of more than 430,000 wind-related outages since the windstorm struck Nov. 30.

The outages, caused mostly by downed trees, were centered in the San Gabriel Valley northeast of Los Angeles.

"We're dealing with the hardest cases now," said Edison spokesman David Song. "Poles are down, wires are down."

Song offered no prediction for when power might be fully restored.

With the outage wearing on, and overnight temperatures falling into the freezing range, tempers have become increasingly short.

Frustration may have reached the boiling point for a 72-year-old man who police said was arrested Tuesday after he made death threats against Pasadena city workers if they didn't restore his power. Geoffrey Commons was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats and released after posting $50,000 bond, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said.

Also Tuesday, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich harshly criticized Edison for its response to the windstorm, in particular for its lack of direct communication with customers. Edison spokeswoman Veronica Gutierrez said the company was relying on the media.

"You really need direct contact with those neighbors. The media only works if you have electricity. They need to turn on the television. So that's stupid," Antonovich said.

California Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, a Democrat from La Canada Flintridge, has asked Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency so resources could be made available to residents. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency.

Nighttime temperatures hovered just above freezing in many areas, but forecasters said winds had died down in recent days. The National Weather Service lifted all Red flag warnings for extreme fire danger caused by dry winds.

However, more gusty winds were in the forecast for Friday, forecasters said.

A preliminary estimate put damage and cleanup costs from the winds last week at $3.8 million in areas serviced by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, spokesman Bob Spencer said. He noted the effort might take weeks to complete.