Power has been restored to hundreds of customers in the eastern Coachella Valley after many were left without electricity for nearly 2 days, the Imperial Irrigation District confirmed Friday night.
"Thursday morning at about 4 a.m. there was one of these freak weather events that happened and there were 14 power poles in the Bombay Beach area that transmit power between Bombay Beach and Coachella Valley, those basically snapped in half like toothpicks," said Imperial Irrigation District Vice President, J.B. Hamby.
The district confirmed that roughly 3,400 residents initially lost power.
"There was like a glitch, the light turned on again and turned off again," said a Mecca boy by the name of Kevin. He and his family were among the hundreds of people impacted.
"It got really windy. About 4 in the morning, the power went out. We woke up thinking it was going to come back," said North Shore resident, Ivan Serrano.
While the power was out, Serrano and his family decided to stay with his brother who lives in Coachella.
"All the food spoiled," said Serrano.
For nearly 2 days, IID worked to restore power. The company announced it had restored power by 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon to about 2,100 customers. In the meantime, others who were living in remote areas were eventually provided generators. The impacts were much harder for some residents who rely on electricity to power their water wells.
"It was basic needs that people were out of for about 40 hours, that was food that was spoiled, that was medication," said Hamby.
On Friday and Saturday a number of organizations, as well as Hamby, came out to North Shore Community Park to hand out food, grocery gift cards, and ice to roughly 400 families. IID also gave generators to the Yacht Club and Galilee Center, which served as temporary shelters.
"Here in the eastern Coachella Valley it’s a really unique geography. There’s wind that gets channeled through the mountains and seems to descend on this area and then out to Bombay Beach where you have almost tornado like winds that occur," said Hamby.
By Friday night the district announced all power had been restored. But some residents are concerned a similar situation could happen again, and if there is an adequate plan in place to provide residents with their most basic needs.
"While there’s nothing we can do in terms of preventing these mother nature events from happening, what we can do is ensure that we have redundancy built into the system to make sure we always have a backup and ideally a backup to the backup. In the case that all those things fail, we have an immediate response that we could meet peoples’ most basic needs," said Hamby.
Hamby went onto say that IID would work to implement a better alert system in the future. He also said they were in the process of making a list of people who rely on electricity to power their water source.
"We don’t want to have these things be recurring."
In the next few weeks, IID will reconvene with east valley residents at North Shore Community Park to address the recent outage, but also provide details on preventative measures, according to Hamby.