Northern California Power Shutdowns

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Alpha8472
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Northern California Power Shutdowns

Post by Alpha8472 » October 9th, 2019, 5:54 am

It has begun. The Purge is here. PG&E which supplies power to much of Northern California has begun massive power shut downs across Northern California. The company claims that it must shut down power to millions in order to prevent firestorms.

The news got out and massive crowds have stormed Walmart stores, Target stores, supermarkets, and gas stations. People have been buying batteries, flashlights, water, food, etc. to prepare for 5 days or more of no power. Walmart was like a scene from a mass looting! Hundreds of angry customers fighting each other for the last gallon of water. Parking lots filled to capacity as cars crash into each other fighting for parking spaces. Fights in the parking lots as people argue with each other. The stores are filled with lines stretching down the aisles.

Safeway parking lots are filled to capacity as people grab every single item they can get. Empty shelves and fighting.

Gas stations with lines stretching down the roads... I was at a gas station at midnight and the employee told people to leave as they were out of gas!

7-Eleven had lines of cars down the street. Chaos was everywhere.

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Re: Northern California Power Shutdowns

Post by submariner » October 9th, 2019, 8:36 am

Please make sure to keep this on topic. The last paragraph did not contribute to the board discussion and had to be deleted.

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Re: Northern California Power Shutdowns

Post by Alpha8472 » October 9th, 2019, 9:28 am

Sorry. The Costco parking lot was so jammed that you could not even enter the lot. I don't know how they could even try to close, they would have needed an army to repel the crowds trying to push their way into the store.

The Home Depot was also impossible to get into the lot. I feel bad for the customers since they close the self checkout at night and have only 2 cashiers.

I found a Speedway that still had gas, but the cashier looked really haggard.

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Re: Northern California Power Shutdowns

Post by storewanderer » October 9th, 2019, 7:25 pm

These types of weather events and potential destruction that comes with them are commonplace in certain parts of the US during certain parts of the year and this sort of panic buying is not entirely unusual in those places, but this sort of thing is pretty unusual in California since the climate is typically so nice there. But most of these retailers in the bay area of California operate very high volume stores and are not completely unprepared for this sort of thing. Not like, say, the sleepy big box home improvement store in Fernley, NV that rarely runs more than 1-2 checkouts suddenly encountering this sort of panic buying. That would be something that would really catch them off guard.

What is interesting here is the power has to be shut off in populated areas, due to risks in unpopulated areas with the power lines.

Wind forecast up here in Reno has not been even close to what was predicted. We had a 50 MPH wind prediction for yesterday, it barely crossed 20 MPH and that was for a very short time period. We will see what happens. This sort of thing impacts here too since so many goods come here from CA.

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Re: Northern California Power Shutdowns

Post by Alpha8472 » October 10th, 2019, 6:35 am

Safeway was unprepared as the chain seems to understaff their stores. The stores had too many customers and not enough cashiers. Walmart also did not have enough cashiers and the checkouts were overwhelmed. 7-Eleven was packed and people were buying everything in sight. Speedway (former USA Gas) was advertising a gallon of water for $1.99. The cashier booth was overwhelmed and it looked like the entire cigarette display was wiped out of cigarettes. Must stock up for the apocalypse.

The power finally went out Wednesday night to large areas of the San Francisco Bay Area. It seemed really random in some areas. The cities in the mountainous hills were completely dark, while flat areas near San Francisco Bay had power. There were huge areas without power while a lone Safeway was the only place with power. Safeway must have brought in portable generators. 7-Eleven was without power and was abandoned. If the power outage goes on for 5 days as expected, 7-Eleven should be prepared to be looted. Some Liquor stores had power, even though the rest of the neighborhoods were dark. Perhaps, they also brought in generators. They probably need power for the burglar alarms. These will be be prime targets for looting. They really should just board up the storefronts like they do during hurricanes.

The wind in this area was about 4 miles an hour. The wind predictions were totally wrong.
Last edited by Alpha8472 on October 10th, 2019, 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Northern California Power Shutdowns

Post by Super S » October 10th, 2019, 7:21 am

Alpha8472 wrote:
October 10th, 2019, 6:35 am
Safeway was unprepared as the chain seems to understaff their stores. The stores had too many customers and not enough cashiers. Walmart also did not have enough cashiers and the checkouts were overwhelmed. 7-Eleven was packed and people were buying everything in sight. Speedway (former USA Gas) was advertising a gallon of water for $1.99. The cashier booth was overwhelmed and it looked like the entire cigarette display was wiped out of cigarettes. Must stock up for the apocalypse.

The power finally went out Wednesday night to large areas of the San Francisco Bay Area. It seemed really random in some areas. The cities in the mountainous hills were completely dark, while flat areas near San Francisco Bay had power. There were huge areas without power while a lone Safeway was the only place with power. Safeway must have brought in portable generators. 7-Eleven was without power and was abandoned. If the power outage goes on for 5 days as expected, 7-Eleven should be prepared to be looted. Some Liquor stores had power, even though the rest of the neighborhoods were dark. Perhaps, they brought also brought in generators. They probably need power for the burglar alarms. These will be be prime targets for looting. They really should just board up the storefronts like they do during hurricanes.

The wind in this area was about 4 miles an hour. The wind predictions were totally wrong.
I can't speak for California, but some stores (particularly newer buildings) have permanent backup generators which exist mainly to power refrigeration equipment and cash registers/computer systems. I remember a Fred Meyer ad mentioning this after a storm during the winter hit the northwest. I also experienced a power outage at an independent grocery store I once worked at, within a minute or two the generators were running and the registers were still working and the coolers were on. They did have reduced lighting though.

I would think that the amount of frozen food inventory justifies backup generators.

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Re: Northern California Power Shutdowns

Post by Alpha8472 » October 11th, 2019, 10:21 pm

The power is 97 percent back on. Most Safeway stores did not have generators and had to throw out all refrigerated food. The shelves are mostly empty. They have not yet replenished much food at all. Perhaps they should invest in more generators.

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Re: Northern California Power Shutdowns

Post by storewanderer » October 12th, 2019, 9:13 am

Alpha8472 wrote:
October 11th, 2019, 10:21 pm
The power is 97 percent back on. Most Safeway stores did not have generators and had to throw out all refrigerated food. The shelves are mostly empty. They have not yet replenished much food at all. Perhaps they should invest in more generators.
It never got any windier than usual up here in Reno the past week. I am sure all the food waste taking place (imagine restaurants too) was a factor in why PG&E was suddenly able to restore the power so quickly after saying it would take days because they had to go inspect all the lines (wow, they did that in 1/5 their original predicted time) before turning it back on. I am really holding back here refraining from making any pointed comments about non-retail topics, such as, but not limited to, a certain utility provider.

At least there are many areas of the state like Sacramento, Susanville, South Lake Tahoe, Mt. Shasta, etc. that did not have their power shut off since they are with a utility other than PG&E so stores ran as usual in those places.

It may also be some of these stores have generators but the generators only work for a certain time period? I don't know anything about generators. I have been in Smiths here with a generator before and most lights were out but refrigeration and cash registers worked. The gas station did not work. As I recall the electronic doors did not work and had to be propped open.

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Re: Northern California Power Shutdowns

Post by Alpha8472 » October 15th, 2019, 12:01 pm

The lone Safeway in Pleasant Hill, California with the generator was struck by a 4.5 magnitude earthquake last night. The earthquake was centered in that city just a short distance away. Many items were knocked off of shelves in the region.

It was very strong.

Employees fled the store as items started falling. It was a very old store, so no one wanted to be inside during the earthquake. I just happened to stop by at just the right time.

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