With winds reaching up to 70 miles per hour and five fires sparking up in Northern California, PG&E shut off the power in many areas, leaving 1.3 million residents without electricity.
PG&E, a California-based natural gas company, issued the power outage beginning on Saturday, Oct. 26. Some residents received a warning a few hours prior through apps like Nextdoor, while others were completely unaware until they were sitting in the dark.
“I wasn’t prepared for the power outage at all because I heard about it right as it happened,” said Kylie Robinson, a junior.
Even for those that received the notification in advance, many residents had never dealt with a prolonged power outage and did not know what supplies were needed.
“My family is completely unprepared. We’ve now talked about having an emergency supply box, having flashlights in specific spots around the house, and extra water,” said Liz Handley, a Belmont resident.
In addition, other residents believe that the warning was given under such short-notice that adapting was not a possibility.
“They need to give us more time in advance to prepare because we have zero electricity and people cannot live off of this. People can’t go to work or school the next day as if everything is normal,” said Naya Salah, the junior class president.
For the time being, residents across the Bay Area are struggling to cope without electricity.
“My house hasn’t had any power for almost 24 hours and we have no clue when it will come back on. I have sleep apnea and need to wear a CPAP mask at night which requires electricity. I haven’t been able to wear it since we have no power, which is making it a lot harder for me to function during the day,” said Chloe Afif, a junior.
Many people have gone to their friends’ residences that were not impacted by the power outages.
“Right now, my house has no electricity at all. It’s odd, but it’s not miserable. I charge my phone and computer at someone else’s house who has power, and then I come home and try to live life as I usually would,” said Zach Nathan, a junior.
Yet for students, regular tasks have become difficult, if not impossible.
“I have so much homework to do, and I can’t see anything. I cannot do homework in the dark,” Salah said. “For the people living in the areas that have been affected, schools should not expect students to finish their homework if they’re unable to see or charge their laptops or access the internet.”
In the wake of the power outage and smoke from the fires gradually pouring into the Bay Area, students have expressed how attending school would only create unneeded stress.
“The air quality is getting worse due to the fires, and it would be beneficial to our health if we stayed home to avoid breathing in this air. Also, getting homework done is a struggle due to the lack of power, so I feel that it would take a load of stress off of Carlmont students if school was canceled on Monday,” Afif said.
Similarly to the youth-led strike in San Francisco that targeted PG&E for their unaccountability in owning up to starting the fires of 2017 and 2018 due to negligence, some students placed blame on PG&E again.
“I think PG&E is to blame for the fires because their negligence is constantly the root of the problem. I believe that PG&E should’ve taken preventative measures a long time ago so that they wouldn’t have to do something so drastic now,” said Sloan Adrouny, a junior.
Although it remains unclear exactly when the power outages will end, it has been predicted that by 8 a.m. Oct. 28, most people will have their power back.
Afif said, “I think that PG&E did make the right decision in shutting off the power, but I feel that they mishandled this decision as they gave limited warnings and haven’t officially announced when we will receive power again.”