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Coming winds hold Sonoma Valley in limbo

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A new Red Flag Warning called by the National Weather Service to begin Tuesday morning and last through Wednesday afternoon may continue the power blackout some in Sonoma Valley have been under since last weekend.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced that it may restore power to some of those who were shut off over the weekend, but also may need to keep power off due to weather conditions.

More than 95,000 PG&E accounts were shut off in Sonoma County during this most recent precautionary blackout.

“We are still looking at the forecast,” said PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras, in an interview with KRON-TV reporters Monday afternoon in response to when power would be restored. PG&E’s meteorologists monitor the conditions and “run the models every hour,” she said. “It’s a fluid situation.”

At press time the National Weather Service called for the Red Flag Warning to be in effect from 8 a.m. on Oct. 29 through 4 p.m. on Oct. 30.

Contreras said PG&E had 6,000 ground personnel “walking the lines and hiking” and 45 helicopters inspecting lines from overhead to assess damage before determining if it is safe to turn power back on.

“We have to have a line of sight on every single line,” she said.

Parts of areas affected by the PSPS were given the “all-clear” on Sunday and inspections started on Monday at 6 a.m.

More than 66,000 acres have burned as a result of the Kincade Fire, which is five percent contained, and 96 structures have been destroyed. More than 190,000 people have been evacuated and more than 4,000 firefighters are fighting the fire.

The City of Sonoma is on standby to open Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building as an overnight evacuation center providing shelter services and 76 cots. No donations are needed at this time, according to City Manager Cathy Capriola.

The City and County announced Monday, Oct. 28 that it has prepared the building at 126 First St. W. to be available as a shelter for evacuees from the Kincade Fire.

“We remain in close contact with County Emergency Services and are prepared to deploy the shelter if and when it is needed, working with our partners and the Sonoma Valley Unified School District, Sonoma Community Center, and Red Cross. Fire conditions and evacuation orders are dynamic, but as of Monday morning this shelter is not currently being activated,” said Capriola in the announcement.

“We know that our generous Sonoma Valley community is ready and willing to help out,” she added. “We will do our best to keep you informed of needs as conditions may change.”

Any potential volunteers who show up at the Vets Building prior to the site being activated can put their names and contact information on a list to be contacted if and when the center is opened.

Capriola also noted that the City, County and school district plan to keep the Vets Building staged as a possible shelter throughout the upcoming Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event this Tuesday and Wednesday.

With the Vets Building on standby as a shelter, it will not be open as a charging center on Oct. 28.

The PG&E Community Resource Center at Hanna Boys Center remains open today for charging devices from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Schools in Sonoma Valley Unified School District were closed on Monday and will be closed again on Tuesday, and at press time Superintendent Socorro Shiels wrote on the district’s website it was the intent of the district to reopen on Wednesday. The district has not determined how make-up days during PG&E’s PSPS (Public Safety Power Shutdown) will be handled.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley Maxwell Clubhouse posted an announcement on Facebook that it would be open to current members from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A Spare the Air Alert was in effect for the entire San Francisco Bay Area for Monday and Tuesday, according to Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s website.

In a televised live press conference on Monday afternoon Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new “aggregated website”, Response.ca.gov, that provides links to various information sites such as the Cal Fire Incident Map, air quality, road closures, shelters and housing, health services, local and state resources, PG&E’s PSPS, preparedness resources, and more.

It is “one single site rather than a labyrinth” of sites, he said.

Sonoma Media Investments, which owns the Index-Tribune, among other publications, removed its paywall to allow more people to access up-to-date information on the Kincade Fire and power outages in the region.

The Sonoma County Resilience Fund, which was established in response to the 2017 fires, and is managed by Community Foundation Sonoma County, is accepting donations and preparing to assist the Kincade Fire survivors.

Email Anne at anne.ernst@sonomanews.com.

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