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Lathrop prepares in case of PG&E power outages

If PG&E decides to cut the transmission line that serves Lathrop and the surrounding communities, the city will be ready.

Earlier this week, the Lathrop City Council got an update on the City of Lathrop’s emergency preparedness in response to the potential blackout scenario, and while more steps are in the works the incident-management team comprised of City Manager Steve Salvatore, Police Chief Ryan Biedermann and Fire Chief Gene Neely believes that the framework to weather the scenario without major interruptions to essential services is in place.

But that doesn’t mean that the residents don’t have a part to play in the preparation.

While Monday’s meeting focused on the things that have been done and are currently in the planning stages, one of the recurring themes was the need for the public to participate in the process by updating the city with current contact information so that the public can be informed about any emergency situations as the arise, and to review the materials that the city has posted on its website regarding emergency preparedness.

“I would encourage anyone watching, and even those that aren’t, to get on the website while we still have power and read the materials to make sure that they can prepare their home for an outage,” Salvatore said. “It can happen any day now. We’re hoping that it doesn’t happen, or that if it does happen, that it won’t for several months.”

And for those who have medical devices that rely on electricity — people on oxygen machines, or CPAP machines — the city encourages contacting the Lathrop Manteca Fire District as soon as possible and report the device and the location so that arrangements can be made to check up on people and make sure they’re taken care of if a widespread outage occurs. By contacting the fire department, routine wellness checks can be scheduled, as can arrangements for where medically-necessary devices can be powered.

While the details aren’t quite ironed out yet, Neely believes that the Manteca District Ambulance company would be on board to provide routine transportation to cooling centers for people who are medically unable to drive themselves but have devices or machines that require power.

While other Central Valley cities are trying to make the same arrangements, Lathrop actually may have gotten a test run recently after a power outage affected a large number of homes and pieces of essential city infrastructure for nearly a full day.

According to Salvatore, the city had to run the water treatment plant on a generator which gave them the opportunity to gauge exactly how much fuel they would need to make through a single day and make calculations that have aided in the planning for a long-term outage.

Currently, the city’s incident management team has plans to make Lathrop City Hall and the Lathrop Manteca Fire Station 35 the cooling and gathering centers in the event that the power does go out. Both are served by generators, and the city has a contract in place to provide what could amount to 10,000 gallons of fuel every day to maintain the generators at those locations and others that rely on power to effectively serve the community.

Discussions are also currently underway with businesses like Super Store Industries about the delivery of ice for residents. According to Salvatore, the company’s massive warehouse on Louise Avenue stores more than 1 million pounds of ice, and they have reached out to the company to possibly contract with delivery to help the residents of Lathrop get through an extended period without power.

There is currently no way of knowing exactly how widespread the communications outage would be if a city the size of Lathrop fully lost power — it would depend on which surrounding cell tower sites still had power — so officials are encouraging residents to plan as if they won’t have access to their cellular devices for updates just in case that is the situation. The city is looking into broadcasting over the radio.

In addition to patrols that will be carried out by Lathrop Police Services, the city also has a contract with a private security firm to patrol the city and report back to law enforcement anything out of the ordinary, something that officials hope will thwart would-be looters and anybody looking to capitalize on the darkness. 

In the event that the outage extends to multiple days, the city police do have the ability to impose a curfew to prevent people from being out after dark to minimize any issues.

For additional information about the city’s emergency preparedness plan, visit the City of Lathrop’s website at, or contact the City of Lathrop at 209.941.7200. Anybody wishing to register medical devices or find out about potential medical transport in the event of a power outage is encouraged to contact the Lathrop Manteca Fire District at 209.941.5100.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.