A Los Angeles Department of Water and Power worker was in intensive care after suffering an injury while working to restore power Saturday in the San Fernando Valley amid weather-related outages affecting thousands of people.
“This accident and serious injury of our employee is a reminder that our line crews and other field personnel are truly unsung heroes who work in hazardous conditions risking their lives to keep the power flowing across our city,” LADWP General Manager Martin Adams said. “The safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, and we are praying that he makes a full recovery.”
The LADWP said 49,000 of its 1.5 million electric customers were still without power late Sunday morning. Since the start of the storm Friday, crews had restored power to more than 98,000 customers.
The remaining outages were spread across LADWP’s service area with some of the hardest hit communities being Glassell Park, Green Meadows, Hancock Park, Hollywood, Studio City, Chatsworth, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, Sun Valley, Tarzana, Van Nuys and Woodland Hills.
“I spoke to the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to express frustration at the amount of time it is taking to restore power,” Los Angeles Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky said in a written statement.
“I was told that all available LADWP personnel have been deployed throughout the city, and that power should be restored soon. However, LADWP has experienced Level 3 damage to the electrical grid, which is on par with the level of damage DWP expects from a magnitude 6 earthquake or higher,” she said. “It could still take up to 48 hours for some households to have their power restored, despite the fact that all available teams are out in the field working to restore power.”
The time frame for crews to respond to an outage increased to 24-48 hours early Saturday, up from the previous 12-24 hours, when it became clear that continued wind and rain would result in additional outages even as crews continued to restore power.
Many of the incidents crews were working to repair involve high winds and heavy rains toppling trees and taking down power poles and power lines, officials said. These require tree clearing and removal, which takes time and slows outage restoration work. Crews are prioritizing restoration work involving broken or downed power poles and power lines as those incidents pose a public hazard.
Some of the outages are a result of flooding and water intrusion into underground electrical systems. When the affected equipment is underground, crews must go from vault to vault to identify the source of the damage before repairs can take place, which can also be time-consuming.
“We want our customers who are without power to know that we are working as hard and safely as we can to get your power restored and we appreciate your patience,” said Brian Wilbur, the utility’s senior assistant general manager. “High winds and heavy rain like we experienced can cause significant damage, but our crews continue to make steady and strong progress and will work around the clock until everyone is back on.”
Anyone experiencing an outage was encouraged to report it at www.ladwp.com, or by calling 1-800-DIAL-DWP (1-800-342-5397).
The utility also offered the following tips:
— Use a flashlight instead of candles, as a light source.
— Switch off all lights, except for one, so you will know when your power has been restored.
— Once your power is restored, it may require you to reset your circuit breaker for the lights to come back on.
— Keep your refrigerator closed to keep food cold.
— Check on vulnerable friends and neighbors to make sure they are safe.
Meanwhile, Southern California Edison’s outage map showed 33 outages affecting more than 4,800 customers in Los Angeles County as of 11 a.m. Sunday, and five outages in Orange County affecting more than 1,300 customers.