UPDATE | Power remains out in downtown Long Beach Friday morning, 40 hours into the blackout, despite Southern California Edison crews working throughout the night to retest the system.
As of 9:59AM, the SoCal Edison power outage map showed 3,723 residents without power on Friday. The website put the estimated time of repair (ETR) at 11:07PM Friday night.
At 6:57AM, the map had shown 2,753 residents without power.
According to a release sent by SoCal Edison, outages may continue throughout the day. Power had been restored intermittently early Friday morning, the release stated.
The release states that the 710 Freeway on-ramps at Third Street are closed. Residents are encouraged to use the Seventh Street on ramp instead. The Sixth Street and Broadway off-ramps are also closed; residents are encouraged to use the Anaheim or Shoreline exits to enter downtown.
Additionally, Sixth Street east of Pine is closed for work.
Southern California Edison representatives took time out to distribute flashlights and water at Pacific and Seventh Avenue last night, as repair crews continued to work.
SCE is giving out flashlights & water at Pacific Ave & 7th in the Check Cashing parking lot. Available until they run out #lbpwrout— Kerry Gerot (@KerryGerotPIO) July 17, 2015
This story was updated at 10:24AM with the number of customers impacted.
PREVIOUSLY: City of Long Beach and SoCal Edison to Test Power Tonight in Hope of Ending Blackout
7/16/15 at 11:30PM | SoCal Edison will be conducting tests from 10:00PM to midnight tonight with the hope of rebooting the network and returning power to downtown Long Beach residents, the City of Long Beach announced at a Thursday evening press conference.
Officials said they were hopeful normal operations would resume, but were in the process of making a contingency plan involving shelters for those left without electricity, if the power failed to return.
Gathering at Third Street and Chestnut Avenue around 9:30PM for the second press briefing of the day, SoCal Edison’s Corporate Communications Director Steve Conroy said the retests were their way of showing downtown residents they were committed to returning power back to the city’s urban core.
At the time of the conference, Conroy said about 2,700 residents were still affected by the blackout, and confirmed that no concrete estimated time of repair (ETR) existed.
Behind Conroy sat the dark and eerie skyline of downtown Long Beach, lit only by a few sparse working lights.
Residents have been without power since about 3:00PM Wednesday, due to a cable failure in an underground vault.
The cable caused an electrical fire and smoke to spill into the air from various manhole covers, even causing one manhole cover to jump nearly 4 feet into the air.
“We have to take a structured approach,” said Conroy. “We have upwards of 100 personnel taking part in the testing.”
He encouraged residents to leave “just one light on” in each living space, so that they will know if the network is working without overwhelming the network with many lights returning to power at once.
Conroy and Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) spokesman Jake Heflin reinforced safety in the coming hours while downtown remained in the dark.
“Safety has to be paramount,” Conroy said.
The intersection of Pine Avenue and Third Street. Photo by Post staff.
“People need to understand the importance of utilizing flashlights instead of candles,” said Heflin, noting a residential fire that critically injured two individuals caused by unattended candles during the early hours of the blackout on Wednesday night.
“This is a time when the community needs to rally around each other and take care of each other,” Heflin said. He emphasized the importance of driving slowly downtown, where many traffic lights are not working.
So far, the encouragement seems to be working: Heflin said the data from the power outage showed no significant increase in traffic accidents downtown, despite the blackout.
Officials were unwilling to comment on the exact footprint and area of the power outages, citing public safety concerns.
Conroy outlined a claims process for residents who had lost food and more during the blackout, available on the SoCal Edison website. Residents who wish are encouraged to download a form, found here, and mail it in to the company.
downtown Long Beach resident Juan Carlos Fernandez said he was hopeful the retests would work, as he had been using up his gas in order to charge his phone in the car before attending work. He’d also found himself throwing out a large amount of food. Then there were safety concerns.
“I mean, I have my flashlight, so I’m ok,” he said. Overall, though, he said it’s made him appreciate modern day appliances and everything that electricity has to offer.
“It makes me think, man, we really are spoiled,” Fernandez said. “It’s been 24 hours already, and we’re acting like this is the end of the world.”
Above, left: City of Long Beach spokeswoman Kerry Gerot. Photo by Keeley Smith.