Local legislators call on feds to help people subjected to power outages

FILE PHOTO A worker from Southern California Edison works to restore power in Saugus on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale and Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, requested federal assistance this week for rural communities, including parts of the Santa Clarita Valley, left in the dark by California’s continuous power shutoffs. 

Wilk and Lackey wrote and signed a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday “directly requesting assistance from FEMA in response to the impacts of these (public safety power shutoffs) sustained power outages,” by asking them for personal generators and the delivery of water trucks for those on wells.

Thousands of Southern California Edison customers in and around the SCV have faced ongoing and purposely imposed power shutoffs due to powerful Santa Ana winds that could increase fire risk in the region. 

These “unprecedented and recurring” outages, as Wilk and Lackey called them, have caused frustration among residents, however; particularly among older adults and those in rural neighborhoods. Earlier this month, at least one Canyon Country resident was left without her regular supply of oxygen

Elected officials visited the Local Assistance Center established at the Santa Clarita Activity Center to provide information and aid to residents effected by the Tick Fire, Wednesday afternoon. October 30, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Wilk and Lackey, who visited the local assistance center that’s aiding Tick Fire victims on Wednesday, said their letter is to give voice to residents of rural communities who are sometimes forgotten during emergencies such as wildfires and are left with no cellphone coverage. 

“When there is no power, people have zero access to water and are unable to communicate to family, friends or first responders,” read the letter. “Ordinary Californians are suffering and possibly dying because of Sacramento policies. Until we can address these policy flaws we need FEMA to intervene to save lives.”

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, who was also at the center Wednesday, said she wants to hear from the community the power shutoffs have directly affected them. She expressed her concern for the power shutoffs in a letter of her own to Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday.

“We are hearing from across the community this has been a huge challenge, particularly for our seniors, our medically fragile population and those out in rural communities,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can at the state level to hold our energy providers accountable for those outages and what we’re going to do to correct these dangerous situations.”

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