Dropping Temps

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Posted by Annie in Twain Harte News on February 19, 2011

The power was restored around 2:30 a.m — a special word of gratitude for those hard-working PG&E workers, who braved the rain and snow last night. I worked 3rd shift for much of my adult life, I know what a struggle it can be. Fortunately, I worked inside – out of the elements. And certainly not in the kinds of weather we’ve been experiencing…

Temperatures here in Twain Harte hovered around 35 degrees for most of the late night hours. Overnight it rained for a couple of hours, until around 2:00 a.m., when heavy snowfall started up again in ernest. Another fresh foot of Sierra Cement fell in the early morning hours.

If you managed to shovel (or snow blow) your way out from under all the snow that fell Friday evening, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well-done. (Ata-Boy!) I kept the back corner of our deck cleaned off and just a few hours ago, I went out to clear it once again, only to find that my once fluffy white snow, now weighs one-ton per square inch. Moving it will not be fun.

In just the past hour the temperature has dipped down to 31 degrees, all that wet slush is freezing, making everything an icy mess. I was hoping to venture out this morning to the post office but that’s not going to happen. It will be well past noon before road conditions are clear enough to allow for safe travel. Even chains and cables aren’t an even match for all this ice. It’s just not worth the risk.

So, keep an eye on the thermometer before heading out today. With all this rain and snow, the roads will be ugly until the tempertures sufficiently rise again.

The woodburner is stoked and we are cozy warm, which is where I plan to stay. I hope you are staying warm as well. What’s it like where you are?

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PG&E Performance Survey

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Posted by Annie in Opinion, Outdoors on November 26, 2010

Shortly before our power was restored last night. PG&E called with an automated survey to find out how we felt they handled the recent outage. Our power came back on minutes after their survey call, which was interesting timing to be sure.

Electrical Repairs

I’d like to look at this outage a little closer, perhaps PG&E is serious about providing better customer service, so I will take this opportunity to give my opinion on the chance that someone might read it and care.

For starters people who live in this area know that we are prone to power outages, especially during the winter months. Most of us are somewhat prepared but just as PG&E’s performance has room for improvement, many Twain Harte residents can do better as well.

When our power first went out, we took it in stride, fully expecting the power to be out for a few hours or perhaps even a day or so, which is normal for our area. We sat around the house and played Legos, snacked and basically enjoyed spending some quality family time.

We especially appreciated PG&E’s extended outage number. Even though the PG&E customer service folks didn’t have a great deal of information available to them, it was comforting knowing that a real live person was just a phone call away. I was able to get right through on their extended outage line every time I called, except once. (I believe I called about ten times, normally twice a day.)

After several days, I discovered the online PG&E Outage Map. It would have been helpful to know about that page sooner, as it did provide a little additional information. Another day later, I had the sense to ask the customer service representative what our “Outage Number” was. I also found that information helpful and I wish I had had that little detail earlier.

I was calling to find out how long we could expect to be without electricity, so that I could plan ahead a little. We no longer have a local gas station, so we needed to plan how large of a generator we would need and make plans to keep it fueled. I needed to be able to plan for meals — like Thanksgiving.

My husband worked on a Forest Service software project years ago. PG&E could learn a few things from the Forest Service.

You see, what PG&E wasn’t telling us is that their crews were spread very thin. Many areas could have been restored earlier (in my opinion) had PG&E had enough manpower to even locate the source of the problems. I notice that once the PG&E trucks arrived in our area, the problem was repaired within hours.

I heard a couple of rumors that disturbed me. One was that some of the outages were not repaired earlier because they couldn’t find the downed lines and another was that they had to order parts before they could fix the problem. Now, I’ve done a little wiring myself, so I can’t imagine them not having the parts they need on hand for an emergency. Even if it was a circuit board issue. Having worked as a gas station manager for many years, I know we have emergency repair people for something as obscure as that.

When a fire breaks out, the Forest Service contracts with local vendors for tools, instead of carting around axes, shovels, hammers and such. Why doesn’t PG&E contract with local electrical contractors to help pick up the slack in an emergency? The locals would be familiar with the area and able to round up parts locally, in a short amount of time.

It would also be helpful if the website contained more details. Our power was back on before the website even listed crews as being onsite. Once PG&E’s automated system even called to tell us our power was back on, when in fact it wasn’t. Afterwards, I checked their website and they listed our outage as beginning at the exact time I had called to notify them that our power was not restored.

This caused even more stress because I had no way of knowing if we were getting pushed to the bottom of the list, because PG&E didn’t know that our power had been out for days.

I was also frustrated when two of their representatives informed me that they were “working on the problem,” when in fact, they had not even arrived onsite and wouldn’t for two more days. It is not nice to lie to the people who are paying your salaries.

Electrical outages can be expected, but how we respond to the challenge makes all the difference in the world.

Our family is in the process of evaluating our own emergency procedures. We are picking up items that will make our life easier because we know that this is just the beginning of this winter season with possibly more wicked winter storms on the way. Being prepared can make all the difference in reducing stress levels and weathering a storm with ease.

If you don’t have an emergency plan, don’t wait. Make sure everyone knows his or her job and you know where your supplies are stored. I know our next winter storm, we will be better prepared. We did a pretty good job this time around but there is still room for improvement. How did your family manage through the storm?

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Thanksgiving Update

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Posted by Annie in Restaurants, Twain Harte News on November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, of course, the power outage continues. The good news is, we have four or five PG&E crews working just blocks from the house, one crew is actually behind the house working.

We skipped the grilled fish dinner I had planned and opted instead for a wonderful buffet spread hosted by Diamond Jim’s restaurant in Mi-Wuk  – and we weren’t alone. The ham with raisin rum sauce was delicious. We met people who came from Groveland and another group of people who were taking advantage of the early ski season at Dodge Ridge.

On another note: I do have a little more good news. After 6 or 7 days without cell service, our cell phones finally work. They came back online sometime before 3-4:00 p.m. today.

I’ll be posting some pictures soon. You wouldn’t believe how much snow has fallen in Sugar Pine and Mi Wuk. It must have been pretty ugly up that way before the plows and the sunshine came through. All in all, it’s a beautiful day, in spite of the cold weather. It’s 37 degrees at the house right now — outside.  Inside, well, my office is a balmy 58 degrees, but this morning it was 45, I decided to skip the update until now. I’m sure you can relate.

Stay warm folks!

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