Southern California

Edison Executive to be Questioned by Long Beach City Council About Outage

It may take months to determine why portions of downtown Long Beach remained without power for more than 72 hours last week, but the City Council is expecting an update from Southern California Edison at Tuesday evening's meeting, Mayor Robert Garcia said.

"This was a pretty serious issue. It was devastating for a lot of people. And so we're going to work with Edison to ensure that we as a city feel very confident about exactly what the issue was, what Edison plans to do in the future to make sure this never happens again," Garcia said.

Edison serves as the electrical utility for LA County's second largest city. At the outage's peak, 4,800 customers were without power, Edison said. Power first went out Wednesday afternoon with an explosion in an underground vault below Third Street near Chestnut Avenue.

Electricity to all customers, residential and business, was not fully restored until Saturday night, Edison said. Troubleshooting systems is more difficult when they are underground, as in the downtown Long Beach area, according to an Edison statement.

As the outrage dragged on, Edison provided water, ice, batteries and flashlights, opened a temporary evacuation center, and brought in mobile generators to provide electricity to the larger multi-unit residential buildings.

"I have to compliment the building manager," said Tony Jurgens, a resident of Plymouth West senior apartments. With the generator, he was able to charge the electric bike he uses for transportation, but then discovered he could not take it downstairs because the generator was not sufficient to power the elevators. For that he had to wait for grid power to return.

Numerous residents said the food in their refrigerators did not survive the outage and had to be tossed. Staff from the city of Long Beach Health Department went to a total of 276 markets and restaurants in the affected area on Thursday and Friday, said Nelson Kerr, manager of the Bureau of Environmental Health. As a rule, if the temperature of food that must be refrigerated instead rises above 45 degrees F for four hours, it cannot be served or sold.

Most retail establishments were in compliance, but several left without means of refrigeration were directed to dispose of food product, Kerr said.

Edison has an established system for customers to make claims for damages.

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