Jun. 23—Damage from the electrical storm that swept through the southern Central Valley this week has cut off power to much of the Arvin area since Wednesday, leaving as much as two-thirds of city residents without power until perhaps midday Friday.
Spokeswoman Katie Allen at Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said lightning struck a "large piece of equipment" at a substation near Arvin shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday.
That cut power to about 6,189 of the utility's customers, she said. (The actual number of people affected would be larger than that because one customer can represent an entire household.)
PG&E was able to restore power to about 38 percent of those customers Thursday, Allen said, but about 3,844 customers remained without electrical service as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday. She said power was expected to be fully restored by noon Friday.
Arvin City Manager Jess Jones said Thursday that about 30,000 people — including residents of Arvin and outlying areas such as Lamont — remained without electricity Wednesday night.
Jones added that about two-thirds of residents still had no electricity as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday. That translates to roughly 15,000 residents.
Because the outage arrived at a time of high temperatures, two cooling centers were opened that Jones said will be open around the clock.
Arvin Mayor Olivia Trujillo said the American Red Cross established a cooling center at Arvin's City Council Chambers, 200 Campus Drive. The center was providing water, ice, cooling generators and TV screens for children, she said. Twenty individuals were inside the cooling center at about 4 p.m., the city estimates.
Another cooling center was created at the Arvin Veterans Hall, 414 4th Ave., that offered opportunities for charging electronic devices.
Community Action Partnership of Kern was providing food and water, according to a news release issued by Kern County.
Jones added many residents have complained about frozen food going to waste, and he noted city staff were attempting to find ice and and make it available. For people with power-dependent medical needs, Jones said, staff are attempting to coordinate help with Kern County staff.
Supervisor Leticia Perez and Arvin city officials hosted a food distribution Thursday at Arvin's Veterans Hall.
Allen said Kern's extreme weather event — more than 600 lightning strikes hit ground below 3,000 feet Wednesday — means no utilities can be completely interruption proof.
Customers can sign up for outage alerts and updates on power restoration online at https: pge.com/outagealerts. Residents can report and view outage information at pge.com/outages or by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
For information on the cooling centers, call 661-854-3134.
You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @_ishanidesai on Twitter.