Lassen County and the city of Susanville got hit with a double whammy recently when the biggest storm system to hit the state in more than a decade rolled across the skies our part of Northeastern California. Some long-time county residents said the stormy weather reminded them of the winters of yesteryear Lassen County used to regularly experience long before people started talking about this stubborn and persistent drought that seemed to have settled in for good around Lassen County.
The relatively warm, winter storm dropped more rain than snow at lower elevations and melted some of the snow pack in the Sierra — and all that water quickly roared down into the Honey Lake Valley.
And then, as if all that water, ice and debris in our creeks, streams and rivers wasn’t enough, a tree fell onto the Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Caribou power line, knocking about 10,000 Lassen Municipal Utility District customers into darkness for a little more than a day.
Crews from Pacific Gas and Electric — the company that provides power to LMUD — had difficulty finding the fault that lead to the power outage, and even planned to use a helicopter to fly the power line, but the weather was so bad, they had to use a snow cat instead. Once they discovered the problem, the power was quickly restored.
Crews from LMUD worked after hours to get the power turned back on for its customers, and planned to re-energize area by area, but thankfully the power was restored to most customers quickly once a good connection was achieved with PG&E.
The outage left many in Lassen County without the power to run heaters, wells, hot water heaters, stoves and all those appliances we take for granted.
Luckily, a few businesses such as Susanville Supermarket, IGA, Safeway and the Diamond Mountain Casino have generators that allow them to remain open. The supermarkets remained open to serve customers. Susanville Supermarket struggled to make enough coffee to meet the demand, completely sold out of donuts and prepared lots of hot food. The hotel at the casino was completely booked and long line snaked around the facility as customers sought to buy gasoline. The Lassen County Fairgrounds opened a Jensen Hall to give those in need without power a warm place to go. All those efforts made life much easier for those in need.
As the rain threatened to flood the city, many residents grabbed their shovels and helped keep the storm drains clear and the water flowing. Officers from the Susanville Police Department put up stop signs on Main Street where some traffic signals were out.
City and county crews also braved the yucky weather kept a close eye on waterways for potential flooding. The Susanville Fire Department responded to a pair of residential fires.
The good new is —we’re back to normal. The bad news is — more winter storms are headed our way this week. Now is the time to get prepared because, lest we so quickly forget our recent hardships, Old Man Winter may have a few more surprises for us yet to come. Let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.