End of darkness nears on the Peninsula

Residents of Oak Street in San Mateo were rejoicing when after more than three days without light, heat and water, electricity was finally restored Monday afternoon. But as of 5 p.m. Monday, 3,330 homes and businesses on the Peninsula — with the majority in Daly City and along Skyline Boulevard — were still left in the dark.

The Peninsula was one of the hardest-hit areas in the Bay Area ravaged over the weekend by the biggest winter storm in two years. High winds and heavy rains disrupted transit service and caused widespread outages as well as road and bridge closures; 123,000 homes on the Peninsula were without electricity.

According to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman Darlene Chiu, power could be restored to Peninsula residents by the end of today. She said crews have been working around the clock to restore electricity but added that PG&E officials are worried that a new storm today may affect the restoration work.

Oak Street residents have been following PG&E’s repair efforts since Sunday afternoon, when contractors arrived to fix a downed power line knocked out by a huge redwood branch that fell, cutting power and cable wires.

While sweeping the sidewalk in front of his house at 1224 Oak St. and eyeing the contractors at the end of the block, Leroy Padilla explained that PG&E first promised to repair the wires Saturday morning.

“It was frustrating not getting answers why we’ve been put down on the bottom of the list,” he said, talking over the raving noise of his neighbor’s generator. Padilla said the entire block had to buy or borrow generators to power the water pumps and bring water up to houses.

One of Padilla’s neighbors, Margreth Barrett, a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, had to correct students’ exams in the dark. She did, however, have use of her gas stove to cook.

“It’s a tremendous inconvenience and we’re uncomfortable, but we’ll survive,” she said. “Last night, I made a big pot of chicken soup and we all sat on the floor around the fireplace and ate our soup. It’s like camping out.”

For Millbrae resident Prescilla Galassi, 84, sitting in her dark, cold house by herself wasn’t easy. When a PG&E representative finally turned her power back on late Monday afternoon, she was giddy with excitement. Dressed in three layers of sweaters, Galassi turned on her thermostat to 70 degrees and said, “How nice and warm it is here!”

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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