California’s scheduled blackouts have played havoc with public communications and telecommunications providers. As MotherJones reports, the blackouts have had a ripple effect of consequences.
Some of the results of PG&E actions during the wildfire crisis include:
- 1,600 cell towers shut down during critical times
- 86,000 people unable to access wireless connections
- Total loss of data, landline and cell service for 90,000 residents of Mendocino County
Contra Costa County Fire Chief McAlister said that during the worst of the fires in early October, the inability to communicate due to the functional loss of 88 cell towers caused serious problems. “We couldn’t deliver evacuation warnings to residents in our community because those cell towers were down,” he said.
Firefighters and other rescue personnel were hindered by the lack of reliable communications as they attempted to handle an immediate crisis. Residents facing challenges on a daily basis were also impacted as public services across the state became unavailable. Agencies, like food banks, designed to assist people, say ineffective communication made it even more difficult to manage their resources, according to MotherJones.
The economic loss from business and school closures tallied into the millions. For example, Superintendent of the Oroville Unified High School District, Corey Willenburg says it would cost $107,000 each day to close the school during the power outages. His other option was to spend $20,000 general fund money on generators, fuel, and additional personnel. He said that 77 percent of his students are socioeconomically disadvantaged and this unexpected cost will negatively impact them.
November 25, 2019
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