Community in Merced County goes without electricity for more than a week

August 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
More than thirty families in Merced County say they are stuck in an agonizing situation with no power, and no solution in sight.

Residents at the Santa Nella mobile home park off Highway 33 are worried about the health of children and seniors who live there. They say criminals are also taking advantage of the problem.

The mobile homes have been without power since a fire destroyed their electric panels last Monday. PG&E says the residents have to make repairs first. But it's a major expense many can't afford.

The families at the Santa Nella mobile home park say they have spent a week in misery with no lights and no air conditioning in the triple digit heat.

"There's school age kids, toddlers, older people, we have a veteran, and that's what I don't understand. He's a veteran, he went and fought for his country, and now he's in a mobile home baking. And no one helps him," Joseph Corralejo a Santa Nella Resident said.

Amanda Pasillas had to send her 5-year-old twins to their first day of school with only bags of chips, despite a request that parents pack nutritional items.

"You know, yogurt, cheese sticks, they want healthy foods, I said I'm sorry I don't have a refrigerator, I have no power," Pasillas said.

The suffering started last week when a vacant mobile home caught on fire. The flames also burned a power pole and the meter panels for 32 units. The Red Cross provided temporary housing for three days, but now the residents say they're on their own.

"We have contacted PG&E. They say they're not going to help us. We have to put the panels in order for them to restore power," Diana Martinez a Santa Nella resident said.

PG&E said it is ready to re-energize the homes as soon as residents make the necessary repairs. But Diana Martinez says the panels cost at least five thousand dollars, and each family is responsible for their own because each parcel at the park is privately owned.

"When people purchased the homes, no one knew we were responsible for the panels, on one knew, whatsoever. So this was all a shock," Martinez said.

The families are now desperately seeking a solution and asking for help from anyone who can provide a temporary diesel generator or other supplies right away. County officials say they are also looking in to the problem.

"We are evaluating different options that we have available to us. Human services agency has been out there from the start, and they're evaluating ways to assist these residents and best help them out in this time," Mike North a Merced County Spokesperson said.

But the residents say the situation is only getting worse and that thieves are now breaking into the homes when the families go elsewhere to cool down.


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