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Residents demand better communication from SCE after power outage at mobile home park

Residents at Desert Sands Mobile Home Community in Cathedral City are still coping with the aftermath of a power outage over the weekend that left them in the dark and without air conditioning amid an excessive heat warning for nearly 48 hours.

Some residents stayed at hotels and others were forced to throw away groceries that had spoiled.

Numerous residents that live in the community reached out to News Channel 3 and shared their concerns over the amount of time it took to fix a broken transformer and restore power.

Additionally, they expressed concerns that the outage was never listed on Southern California Edison’s outage map.

Since then, SCE’s IT department has identified and corrected an issue that prevented the outage from being reported on the map, according to Jeff Monford, SCE’s Corporate Communications Senior Advisor.

"The situation arose because most of the mobile home parks, not just this one nearly all of them, have only a single connection to the grid and thats a classic bottleneck, where if any equipment has a vulnerability or a failure, it has a big consequence," according to Monford.

Desert Sands Mobile Home Community is made up of 300 homes. "The systems are simply not built to handle a huge number of occupants here year-round using power in record-breaking heat. So in this case it was SCE's transformer that failed due to the load put on it from the heat," stated Monford.

Monford added that the utility continues to work with mobile home communities throughout the Coachella Valley to help them apply for funding to support modernizing their internal power system. However, there is not enough funding to help every park make upgrades all at once. Monford said only a few grants are available every year. "In the meantime, SCE has already been evaluating these transformers that have a very big burden on them because they're supplying so many homes, and proactively replacing them, even before their scheduled life expiration," according to Monford.

The mobile home community's manager, who couldn't speak on-camera citing legal reasons, provided information to News Channel 3 off-camera regarding the situation. According to Vicky Czarnecki, SCE informed her although the utilities transformer broke and triggered the emergency shut-off of rest of the electric system, which is owned by the park, the park would have to get ahold of an electrician to turn the power back on once the SCE crew fixed their end of the problem.

"Many of us were calling, including the park management. They called every hour on the hour. They couldn't get a response other than 'we're working on it.' They should've been proactive and at least let the park management know what was happening. Whatever we found out, we did it on our own. They made no effort to keep us informed," according to resident Doug Stewart.

Stewart said he has become aware that SCE is working to upgrade power systems like the one at his community, but he said he hasn't heard of any specific timeline for when the upgrades will begin. "We wouldn't have known about it if tis hadn't happened," according to Stewart.

He said he would like to see better communication from SCE in the future, but is hopeful other outages down the road are prevented.

Watch News Channel 3 at 6:00 p.m. tonight for the full report.

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Jennifer Franco

Jennifer Franco is the weekend anchor/weekday reporter for KESQ News Channel 3


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