PG&E restored power to much of downtown Oakhurst by early Monday evening, but those in outlying areas may not have power for days. The massive power outage closed nearly every business in Oakhurst and even getting in and out of town was difficult. The California Highway Patrol had to escort drivers between Coarsegold and Oakhurst for more than five hours Monday afternoon because of multiple rockslides. "Last night was one of the worst storms we had come through here. The last storm we had that closed stuff, and this many slides was last year," said Sgt. Edward Greene with the California Highway Patrol.
The cold and wet storm took down trees all over Oakhurst and the surrounding mountain communities. Majestic oaks and evergreens landed on homes and power lines. Families without electricity relied on candles, stoves, and blankets to stay warm. "Until the electricity comes on, we BBQ. We just finished our dinner and we've got stoves and heaters and whatever else we can use to keep warm and a little bit of light during the night," said Oakhurst resident Robert Choin.
The one Oakhurst grocery store open Monday used generators to run the registers, but people shopped in the dark. Even as power crews made progress, they prepared for the possibility of overnight setbacks. "If a tree didn't go over last night, and we get a little more snow tonight, that tree could go over and take out something we've already energized," said Kevin Withrow with PG&E.
PG&E crews were unable to work through the night because the possibly of more snow makes it too dangerous. Still, they are preparing for some very long days. Crews from all over the state and even beyond are headed to the area to help.