Power was restored Tuesday to nearly 500 Imperial Irrigation District customers in the North Shore area, near the Salton Sea, but more than 470 other customers could be without power up to four days.
A storm described by an IID board member as “an act of God” destroyed more than 30 electrical poles on Monday, causing about 1,400 customers to initially lose power at 7:30 p.m., according to IID.
The utility restored power to 492 customers by 8:45 p.m. Monday night, and another 292 customers around 9:45 a.m. Tuesday.
The IID held a special board meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday in order to address the issue and provide the public with information on the restoration effort.
During the meeting, the Board of Directors opted to declare the outage a local emergency, meaning that the utility can be reimbursed for expenses made in the effort to restore power from the state government once approved by Riverside County.
IID announced at the meeting that an additional 192 customers had power restored Tuesday, reducing the number of customers without power to approximately 470.
The utility maintained its initial statement that power restoration will take approximately four days, and that crews were working 12-hour shifts to make repairs as quickly as possible.
According to IID, the poles in North Shore knocked down by the storm were initially placed 27 years ago. These knocked down poles will be replaced by what a board member described as “a higher class.”
IID board members heavily debated whether they are obligated to house and feed those affected by the outage. Board members were worried that individuals that are not immediately affected by the outage would take advantage of such services.
The utility agreed to begin discussions with Riverside County to provide relief but stated that its priority is returning power, not providing extra relief such as temporarily hotel shelter to those affected.
“We have all hands on deck,” Marilyn Del Bosque Gilbert, IID energy manager, said earlier Tuesday. “The district has all resources available at the site and will continue to work as long as needed to restore power.
“We appreciate the patience of our customers during this unexpected outage.”
The storm caused downed distribution lines and other damage that required the removal of equipment and the construction of new infrastructure, according to the utility.
IID reported 80 personnel were deployed to the restoration effort under “extreme weather conditions,” and the utility was making ice and bottled water available for North Shore customers affected by the outage.
The supplies were being provided at the IID command center, located near the intersection of Club View Drive and Vander Veer Road. Ice will be provided from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. for the remainder of the outage.
The utility reported the Yacht Club at 99-155 Sea View Drive in Mecca has been designated as a cooling center from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. until power is restored. The Yacht Club will also be the location of a food distribution event from 8-10 a.m. Wednesday or until food runs out.
At the board meeting, the utility also added that the Coachella Valley Water District had provided water to be used for things other than drinking.
County Supervisor Manuel Perez, whose Fourth District includes Thousand Palms, responded to the announcement on Twitter by saying, “4 days is too long. My office is reaching out to county departments to see what resources we can help IID with.”
IID serves electricity to more than 150,000 customers in parts of Riverside and San Diego counties, and all of Imperial County.
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