For most of the day, PG&E’s resource center at Avaya Stadium sat empty.
Stacks of water bottles remained untouched. Power strips, hand-washing stations and portable toilets went largely unused. Four PG&E customer service representatives stared blankly into their laptops under the shade of a cavernous white tent.
By Wednesday evening, barely a dozen people visited the resource hub, which the utility giant set up to help South Bay residents get through the first leg of a potentially week-long power outage to mitigate wildfire risk amid dry, blustery conditions. But lighter-than-anticipated winds prompted the company to delay the start of Santa Clara County’s blackouts from midnight, then noon and finally to 8 tonight.
The help center PG&E staged to open first thing this morning was rendered pretty much moot—at least until the following day. Though the outage got pushed back, some people still wandered into the soccer stadium site looking for guidance.
“The customers wanted to find out if their address was listed in the customer count that would be impacted by shutoffs,” PG&E spokesperson Mayra Tostado said. “People are curious as to what's happening and what’s going on.”
So it was far from the most eventful day for PG&E staff at Avaya. But some of the folks who did stop by for a spell figured that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“When the disaster strikes, it strikes,” Santa Clara County resident Manoj Kumar remarked. “People would say, ‘Why didn’t we do more?’ That’s why I appreciate this resource center. It’s absolutely necessary.”
By the time the lights go out in parts of San Jose and surrounding cities, PG&E’s Avaya resource center will have been closed for two hours. But the sparsely attended launch Wednesday could be considered a practice run.
The city of San Jose has dedicated a few of its own community centers for residents affected by the power outage. Like PG&E’s help hub at Avaya, the city’s resource centers feature power stations, bottled water and snacks.
By Wednesday evening, no one had shown up at the city’s centers, according to Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services spokeswoman Carolina Camarema. And it’s unlikely anyone will until the following morning. The city’s help centers close at 8pm—just as the power outage is expected to begin.
Come later afternoon Thursday—when meteorologists expect winds to subside after a particularly blustery night and morning—Tostado said PG&E will send 45 helicopters and 700 field personnel to inspect every mile of power lines, checking for any damaged poles and other vulnerabilities.
Meanwhile—if all goes according to plan—the air conditioning will whir along for anyone seeking reprieve in PG&E’s tent on the Avaya Stadium parking lot.