Power Out, Emergency Operations On

County leaders and other regional officials discuss responses to the blackout at the Emergency Operations Center.

San Diegans had never seen anything like it: a power outage covering the entire county and beyond.  While the sudden cutoff meant the end of the workday for thousands of residents, it sent County emergency operations staff into action.

The County Emergency Operations Center activated at a Level Three – the highest level – due to the impact on the entire region and the need for coordination with dozens of other County and regional agencies to monitor the situation and respond.

The Center’s media room was soon filled with local reporters covering the developing situation. Chairman Bill Horn hosted two news conferences, sharing the podium with officials from the San Diego Gas & Electric, city of San Diego, the County Office of Education and other local leaders to share the latest developments and important safety information.

Delivering the message was one thing, but the outage meant few people were receiving it the way they normally would. That’s where the County took advantage of Twitter, continually posting messages throughout the evening. 

Electricity was eventually restored to the county about 12 hours after the blackout began. But the incident provided valuable lessons in coping with a large-scale power outage, which could be only one part of a major emergency like an earthquake.

“Overall, we were fortunate this turned out to be more inconvenience than disaster,” said Emergency Operations Director Ron Lane.  “But I hope as a result, San Diegans will take a look at how well prepared they were and take any steps they need to be better prepared in the future.”

Were you ready?  Among the items you should have in case of a blackout:

  • a non-cordless phone that does not depend on electricity to operate
  • flashlights
  • battery- or crank-operated radio
  • water and non-perishable food

Learn more about what you should have prepared at home, schools and the workplace at ReadySanDiego.org