Letter to the Editor: City of Martinez’ lack of direct communication during PG&E public safety power shut-off

October was one heck of a month for Martinez residents. The first threats of wide-spread PSPS, earthquakes, the second threat and realization of a PSPS impacting Martinez residents, dangerous winds, fallen trees and injuries, fire and evacuation, were similarly experienced beyond our city’s borders and on balance we were luckier than many if not most. I know I was. I lost a few items to both the earthquake and the PSPS but nothing of any great significance. On balance Martinez citizens were pretty fortunate.

That said the events still proved worrisome for many of our more vulnerable citizens; those who did not know who to turn to for help with a loved one’s durable medical equipment power needs, information on resources for keeping cellphones charged (when most landlines were also impacted by the loss of power), residents who worried about water delivery learning neighboring communities were being told to limit usage. Even the most basic information like how a gas stove top will still work without the electric striker by simply igniting the gas with a match like you did when stoves still had pilot lights, seemed lost on many.

Without the information being shared on social media from this publication as well as the Martinez Police Department, residents affected were left in the dark, both literally and figuratively by a city hall and city manager’s office that has been largely silent since December 2018, the date of our last City Manager’s Newsletter.

This isn’t my first attempt to shine a light on the lack of communication (nor am I the only one), I did so directly on October 28th and then waited to hear any acknowledgement of the extraordinary events of October during the first City Council meeting of November. Some kind of after action report from staff, a wrap up of the numbers of households affected, lessons learned, a promise to do better, anything. The silence was deafening.

If this had been a city-wide emergency drill, in my opinion, we failed. Now failure in and of itself isn’t all bad, unless no actions are taken, adjustments made, to improve in the future. Based on what was not said, I am not confident. At this point all I can do is suggest every resident enroll in the next CERT training and learn how to take care of yourself and each other. If October taught us anything it should be we’re on our own.

– Linda Meza

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