Electricity was restored in San Diego early Friday after utility crews worked around-the-clock to make emergency repairs following an outage accidentally triggered by a utility worker that darkened a swath of California, Arizona and Mexico and paralyzed the nation's eighth-largest city.Looks like kids in the local Capistrano Unified School District are going to get a day off for nothing.
The restoration of power in San Diego signaled that the blackout was essentially over, with electricity back to almost everyone affected by the outage, though the electrical system was deemed fragile and people were urged to go easy on air conditioning, while San Diego schools and beaches remained closed.
According to tallies provided by officials, power was also restored to 180,000 customers in Mexico and 56,000 in Yuma, Ariz., but it was unclear clear how many other customers were still without electricity.
My trip into the outage zone yesterday afternoon was quite an adventure. We live about 1/2 mile north of La Paz Road, and from La Paz south almost everything was out. Driving down to La Paz you'd never think there was a problem, but once I turned under the freeway it was like coming out into a war zone. Everything was off on the other side with huge traffic jams at every intersection.
I took the frontage road south because I figured the freeway would be a nightmare (it was) and managed to make my way down to Crown Valley Parkway. Going through major intersections like Oso Parkway was an adventure, but for the most part people were respectful of each other and everybody took their turn.
My plan was to take another road to connect over to Camino Capistrano and take the back way into San Juan, but my connector road was absolutely gridlocked. I ended up making a U-turn, cutting through a Costco parking lot (it was closed), and fighting my way back onto Crown Valley Parkway which was backed up for at least a mile from the I-5.
I managed to get on the I-5 but every offramp as I headed south was backed up for more than a mile thanks to the signal outages on the offramps. It probably took 30-40 minutes to get off the freeway at J-Serra and finally make it to my destination across the street from the mission.
To complicate things the cell phones system was very erratic. Phones were overloaded with everyone trying to call at once, a couple times I looked at my phone and found I had messages but had never heard the phone ring. At one point I decided to try sending my wife a text message hoping she'd see that and know I was trying to get there. That worked, though she was unable to reply.
It was an interesting journey - over 90 minutes for a trip that should take 15. The trip home was a piece of cake, but in the areas right off the freeway that still had power every gas station was jammed full of people trying to get gas before heading further south. It all had a bit of end-of-the-world about it.
Hopefully the drama is all over.