A standing room only crowd packed the Jessie Turner Center in Fontana on Nov. 13 to hear Southern California Edison representatives report on how public safety power shutoffs were handled during the recent windstorms and will be handled in the future.
Several residents and business owners expressed their concerns during the special meeting, which was held in partnership with SCE and the Fontana Chamber of Commerce.
In the first half of the meeting, SCE representatives explained how their system works, giving reasons why some areas had power and other nearby homes and businesses did not.
SCE representatives discussed their aggressive campaign to change the electrical wiring and to improve the outer protection of their transmission lines to try to avoid future problems throughout California.
The topic of moving the power lines underground was brought forth, which would cost about $3 million per mile to convert the overhead lines to underground lines.
After SCE's informational part of the meeting, a breakout session was held in the gymnasium so people could ask questions and get more information on the available services.
When residents returned for the public communication part of meeting, some of them voiced frustration because they didn't feel that the informational cards they submitted for the question and answer session were adequately answered.
Residents were encouraged to submit claims online, but some residents were skeptical that their needs would be met.
In a news release, the City of Fontana and SCE said they are currently working on answering the questions. When available, the answers will be posted on the Fontana Emergency Management webpage.
Chamber of Commerce President Phil Cothran said it was estimated that half a million dollars was lost cumulatively from Fontana businesses during the power outages, which took place on several days in October.
"I understand that this is not going to be a one size fits all solution for our city," said Mayor Acquanetta Warren. "But together, we will find a solution that can protect our residents' safety while keeping our power on. This meeting is just the beginning."
Also speaking during the event were Fontana Police Department Chief Billy Green and Fontana Fire District Assistant Chief Jeff Birchfield. They touched on evacuation procedures, blackened-out (uncontrolled) intersections, security concerns for homes, and preparing for an emergency.
"When you do approach an uncontrolled intersection, you should treat it as a four-way stop sign. We did unfortunately have some traffic accidents during the last power outage, but we can greatly reduce them just by having the awareness that we do need to treat those like an uncontrolled intersection," Green said.
Birchfield recommended downloading the Ready SB County app to assist with planning for a disaster, including creating a supply kit and finding evacuation sites when made available. He also suggested signing up for emergency alerts such as CodeRED. Residents can visit readyfontana.org to sign up for alerts and for more information about emergency management in Fontana.
The meeting was recorded by the City of Fontana's KFON TV and will be posted to the city's official website and social media accounts next week.