County allocates funds to help those affected by power shut-offs

The Lamon family's 10-year residence on Husk Avenue in Baker Canyon was destroyed during the Tick Fire. Emily Alvarenga/The Signal

To provide assistance to residents who were affected by power shut-offs, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a grant Tuesday that would allow the county to prepare, respond and potentially mitigate future power shut-offs. 

“This funding is critically important to support our residents who are directly impacted by power safety shut-offs,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley, said in a news release. 

In an attempt to lower the risk of wildfires, utility facilities have begun exercising Public Safety Power Shut-offs during extreme weather conditions like high winds, extreme heat and low humidity, to lower the fire risk. 

Prior to the weeklong Tick Fire, which burned more than 4,500 acres, destroyed 23 homes and damaged 40 others, a red flag warning went into effect that initiated power shut-offs in the Canyon Country area. 

Soon after, the fire broke out near Tick Canyon Road. Left without power, homeowners in the rural areas of the Santa Clarita Valley were unable to protect their homes from flames because they could not access their water wells. These wells use a powered pump to pressurize the system, so with no power the wells were unable to be used. 

Residents Amy and David Lamon were left without power and their home was ultimately destroyed in the fire. 

“We had very little access to information because we had no internet, so we didn’t know that there was a fire until we saw the smoke,” David said in a previous interview. “That’s my point. In natural disasters, you want to provide electricity for as long as possible, not preemptively shut it off.”

The Lamons continue to share their story to raise awareness for this problem. 

In response to the thousands of homes left without power, Gov. Gavin Newson initiated help from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. 

“On Oct. 25, 2019, the Cal OES allocated $2,995,139 to Los Angeles County for resilience activities related to PSPS events,” the county agenda report said. 

Now that the funding was available, the board was left with the task of allocating the funds to different departments. 

“This allocation of state funds to county departments will ensure that essential emergency and life-saving services for both people and their animals can continue uninterrupted even when SoCal Edison determines that the company must shut off a community’s power supply,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who represents the 3rd District, said in a news release. 

According to the report, the board distributed the grant to the Department of Animal Care and Control, the Fire Department, Internal Services Department, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, Department of Public Health, Department of Public Works and Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services. 

“With our residents’ safety at the forefront of our minds, we are committed to allocating timely resources for our communities,” said Barger. 

Signal Staff Writer Emily Alvarenga contributed to this report.

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