Food by VICE

Californians Worried About Fate of Frozen Turkeys During PG&E Power Cuts

Roughly 181,000 customers in the Paradise, Calif. area will be affected by power cuts that are scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Nov 22 2019, 12:00pm

Photo: Getty Images

If you're the one hosting the Thanksgiving meal next Thursday, it's probably time to start ticking things off your To Do list. You know, things like working on a festive fall centerpiece, finalizing your guest list and your menu, and making sure that you have a generator, batteries, flashlights, extension cords, ice chests, and shelf-stable side dishes.

That could be the reality for thousands of Californians, because Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has announced that it will be—and currently is—cutting its customers' electricity off in another attempt to prevent its power lines from sparking wildfires during the high winds that have been forecast for this week.

"We have learned to make do with the power outages and have planned ahead. So the plan is to probably just go shopping at SaveMart, I know they have a generator," Victoria Sinclaire told Action News Now. "It will probably be the day before Thanksgiving, which is less than ideal because it is packed, but I mean in all reality it's just what we need to do right now."

Sinclaire also said that her plans for a potluck Thanksgiving meal might've just turned into a "bring your own BBQ dinner." She is one of 181,000 customers in the Paradise area that will be affected by the power cuts that are scheduled to begin on Wednesday. (And she is also one of the thousands of Paradise residents who lost their homes during last November's deadly Camp Fire. The fire was blamed on downed PG&E power lines, and the company was sued shortly before it filed for bankruptcy.)

In Jackson, a city 140 miles south of Paradise, food banks are trying to figure out how to keep hundreds of donated turkeys frozen during their own round of power cuts. Beth Stanton, the executive director of the Interfaith Food Bank, said that the organization had asked for 860 frozen turkeys that it could distribute to its clients. Although the food bank has a generator, she told FOX40 that she's not sure what the families who receive a turkey are going to do.

"If we distribute a bunch of stuff that’s frozen or from the refrigerator and cold, what are people going to do with it?" she asked. "Take it home and not have anywhere to put it?”

Some food banks that don't have generators said that they'll rely on rented or borrowed refrigerated trucks to keep their donated frozen turkeys cold—while others don't know what to do except cross their fingers.

"Our only plan is if the power goes out don't open the freezer until we have to," Joanne Boralho, a spokesperson for the Anderson-Cottonwood Christian Assistance in Anderson, said. "We are a non-profit so we don't have the means to get a generator or rent a generator so we are just hoping for the best."

She also has 575 frozen turkeys to try to accommodate, so if everyone else could hope for the best, too, that would be great. In the meantime, a few neatly arranged flashlights can make a lovely centerpiece, especially if the batteries are in fall colors.

climate change
frozen food