Coronavirus: Danville, Orinda residents deal with power outage on top of COVID-19 isolation

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Friday, April 17, 2020
East Bay residents pull together during PG&E outage, shelter-in-place order
A Good Samaritan reached out to neighbors affected by PG&E's planned power outage during shelter-in-place order amid COVID-19 pandemic.

DANVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of East Bay residents lost electricity on Thursday, on top of having to shelter at home. Pacific Gas and Electric cut their power all day, so it could do maintenance work.

Kaylin Dunphy was studying online Thursday morning when suddenly power went out.

PG&E had just shut off the electricity to hundreds of homes in Danville and Orinda, a planned outage so the utility could work on wildfire prevention.

"It was about 9:05a.m. and then everything went black," said Stephen Dunphy, Kaylin's father. He lucked out. A good Samaritan saw our story Wednesday night and came to the rescue.

RELATED: Coronavirus: PG&E to cut power to some East Bay residents for maintenance during stay-at-home order

"He let me borrow his generator, five gallons of gas, and extension cords," Stephen said.

They plugged it in, and kids were back online for school, and the refrigerator is running. Stephen is grateful to the man who stepped up.

"After your newscast last night (Wednesday), a neighbor called out of the blue -- never met him. It's amazing to see the community rise up even in the face of such a bad thing," he said.

However, hundreds of others were left without power at a time they say they need it most. Sequestered families are working and going to school online. Freezers and refrigerators were fully stocked with food to avoid multiple trips to the grocery store during the shutdown.

Stephen's neighbor Sean Venezia called us from his car, after his house lost all power.

RELATED: PG&E fire mitigation during shelter-in-place baffles Marin County residents

"It's a little frustrating that we're dealing with this while in lockdown. So, I decided to go out on a little walk with my mom," Venezia said.

He is making the most of this double-shutdown, but back home: total darkness.

"We're keeping the refrigerator door shut because we have lots of food and stuff, that's all stocked up, because of the shutdown," said Venezia.

PG&E shut off power so workers could install new equipment to help prevent wildfires. Residents pleaded for a delay, saying this was the worst possible time to cut electricity as folks are required to stay home, kids are studying online, and many had stocked up on food that might now spoil.

RELATED: PG&E cuts power during shelter-in-place to Marin customers to prevent wildfires

"I was blown away when they said no we're not gonna reschedule. In fact, we're gonna move forward and there's nothing you can do," Stephen Dunphy said when 7 On Your Side first spoke to him.

PG&E apologized for the disruption but said work cannot wait, as fire season is approaching. For Kathy Patton of Orinda that's no comfort. For her, no electricity also means no water. And she was told she'd be out for two additional days this month.

"We won't even be able to go to the bathroom. So, yeah," said Patton.

PG&E is planning outages in other cities too. But it did not respond when we asked for a schedule, and which residents' electricity will be cut off, and when.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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