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Some in Citrus Heights without power for days after storm

Dominique Cline trims a friend’s hair by flashlight and window light on Jan. 11, 2023, after a downed power line cut power to her neighborhood four days prior. // M. Hazlip

Updated 4:57 p.m., Jan. 12th–
By Mike Hazlip—The series of storms that lashed California have left downed trees and power outages in their wake, with some Citrus Heights residents going on their fourth day without power.

On Wednesday afternoon, residents living near Mariposa Avenue and Ecton Road were still waiting for SMUD crews to restore power after a tree blew down and damaged a utility pole at the end of the road sometime Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. One of those residents, Dominique Cline, says that while she understands crews are busy, she is losing income each day her home-based hair salon isn’t operating.

“It’s been rough, it’s been rough,” Cline said on Wednesday. “The first night we weren’t surprised when the power went out and it wasn’t until the next day that we realized a tree had fallen in the neighborhood.”

Cline had to cancel her appointments, she said, losing close to $1,000 in revenue from her business this week, but her main concern was for a neighbor who uses medical equipment. Cline offered the use of her generator but the neighbor declined, opting instead to stay with family.

“I do know eventually we’ll have power; that’s a given,” she said. “It’s just how they determine who gets power first. We’re 12 houses here; I believe two of them are medical need houses and then one of them is a business. I just wasn’t expecting to be out for a total of four to five days.”

From Tuesday: Fallen trees, power outages in Citrus Heights amid series of winter storms

SMUD Public Information Specialist Gamaliel Ortiz told The Sentinel in a phone call Wednesday repairs are taking longer than expected because of the number of outages through the utility district’s area.

Ortiz said SMUD prioritizes restoring service based on factors such as public safety, the number of customers affected, and the unique needs of those customers.

“Public safety is always a top concern especially with widespread outages,” Ortiz said. “So if there is an outage that has a downed wire, that would be a top priority because that is a public safety issue.”

Although the outage near Ecton Road was caused by a downed wire, SMUD de-energized the line until crews could make repairs, leaving about 12 residents dark. Ortiz said customers were expected to have power restored Thursday morning, but said SMUD would “continue to provide estimates if conditions change.”

Information from SMUD’s outage map shows 34 customers throughout Citrus Heights were without power as of Thursday afternoon. The 12 customers near Ecton Road appear to now have a restoration date of Friday by 8 a.m.

From Tuesday: Uprooted tree prompts closure of popular Citrus Heights steakhouse

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, SMUD’s map showed a total of 215 active outages, affecting a total of 1,579 customers. That total is down from several hundred thousand customers being without power over the weekend, including more than 45,000 in Citrus Heights.

In a Jan. 10 press release, SMUD said the winter storms of 2023 were the “most damaging string of storms in SMUD history.” Almost 600,000 customers experienced an outage since Jan. 1, with over 300 power poles and 1,800 wires down. Each pole takes a full crew about eight hours to replace, the release said.

“Due to extensive damage, many customers have experienced lengthy outages that last overnight, and some will last several more days,” the release said. “SMUD has been contacting vulnerable customers we expect to be out of power overnight directly so they can make arrangements.”

For Cline, she is grateful for the support of friends and family and tries to keep as much heat in her home as possible using draft stoppers on her doors and using a six-hour generator to keep her pellet stove going at night.

“It’s… it’s been hard,” she said. “We are lucky that we have family locally, so we have been able to go shower at my brother’s or my mother’s, and my brother and my mother have provided us a place to eat dinner.”

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