PG&E Power Outage Shut Off: Woman with spina bifida tells agency to 'plan better, do better' during Public Safety Power Shutoff

EL CERRITO, Calif. (KGO) -- People who identify themselves as having disabilities say PG&E forgot about them during the Public Safety Power Shutoff. Elizabeth Jones has spina bifida, which is why she uses a wheelchair. Her roommate also has a disability. They live in El Cerrito in a third floor apartment and called PG&E for guidance about what they should do. Jones says PG&E's response was not what she expected.

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"They kind of hummed and hawed at her and they were like, 'Um well uh there might be this one place but we're not really sure,'" said Jones.

She says the advice they gave her roommate was to stay with friends.

"Unfortunately, the disabled community is not one people know about until they are involved in it, until you become paralyzed, until you have an accident or until you become elderly," Jones said. "So we're forgotten, which is unacceptable at this point, a life is a life."

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Jones lost a friend who uses a wheelchair in a wildfire.

"It really does kind of scare me that that could be me next," she said.

She has a message for PG&E: "Plan better do better."

A PG&E spokesperson writes in an emailed statement to ABC7 News, "We understand the hardship turning off the power for safety can be for customers, especially the customer with whom you spoke and all customers with similar circumstances. We don't take this action lightly. We do everything we can, dependent on weather, to send customer alerts at 48 hours, 24 hours and just prior to shutting off the power. We do so through automated calls, texts and emails. In the instance of customers on our Customer Care program, we make a concerted effort to reach them and make repeated attempts until we can verify that they have been contacted. The safety of our customers is our highest responsibility."

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Jones stayed with her parents on Wednesday night in Orinda, who lost power but live in a home where she wouldn't have to worry about getting up and down stairs in her wheelchair in the dark.

For the latest stories about PG&E's Public Safety Power Shutoff go here.

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