On Air Now

Listen Now


Partly Cloudy
H 71° L 54°
  • cloudy-day
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 71° L 54°
  • cloudy-day
    Partly Cloudy. H 71° L 54°
  • rain-day
    Showers. H 58° L 53°

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00


Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00


Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

California businesses face reality of electrical outages

California businesses face reality of electrical outages

California businesses face reality of electrical outages
Photo Credit: Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat via AP
Jamie Olivas transfers items from a Safeway store on Calistoga Road into a refrigerated trailer in order to keep them cold during a power outage in Santa Rosa, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Pacific Gas & Electric has cut power to more than half a million customers in Northern California hoping to prevent wildfires during dry, windy weather throughout the region. (Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat via AP)

California businesses face reality of electrical outages

Retailers and other businesses, from hardware chains to coffee shops, are dealing with a new economic reality of electrical outages in Northern California.

Many struggled to keep their businesses open on the second day after the nation's biggest utility Pacific Gas & Electric cut off power to more than a million people to mitigate the risk of wildfires as heavy winds sweep through.

Home improvement chains Lowe's and Home Depot said their stores have been busy with people seeking generators, batteries and flashlights. Both companies said their stores are open and that they are working to bring more emergency supplies to the affected areas. But for many mom and pop outlets, it was even more of a struggle as they can't rely on sophisticated distribution centers to keep restocking shelves.

Workers at both small businesses and big chains turned to creative ways to serve customers either in the dark or with limited power from generators. They tabulated sales on a piece of paper. They brought flashlights to work, and guided customers to dark areas of the store to help them find batteries and other emergency supplies.

Friedman's Home Improvement store in Sonoma, California lost power Wednesday, but remained open with a limited amount of electricity from generators. Employees with flashlights and head lamps took customers into the darkened store to buy batteries, power cords, flashlights and other items. Barry Friedman, whose family owns four Friedman's stores, said local schools are closed, so many employees have childcare issues.

"Making sure we're there for our community and making sure we're there for our team members is really complex for a business owner right now," Friedman said. "We're working on getting products here as quickly as possible to serve the community. So a lot of complexities with this power shutdown."

Sonoma resident Judy Fontana, who works at a catering company, was one of many residents working on laptops and charging their devices at an auditorium at the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall. She said her home and office don't have electricity or Internet connectivity.

"Wind is going to happen, and now we're going to have days and days with inconvenience and this is not sustainable," Fontana said. "We're all losing money. A lot of businesses are closed today because there's no power. So it's affecting a lot more than anyone thought it would."

The impact of the outage on the U.S. economy will likely be small, economists say, unless it lasts for much longer or spreads to many more households.

Many stores, restaurants and other businesses have had to close, but most of the spending that would have taken place will likely be made up when stores reopen, said Ben Herzon, an economist at forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers. And the rush to buy food, bottled water, and backup generators gave many stores a boost before the power was cut off.

"When you average it into the national figures, it's going to be hard to detect," Herzon said.

The electricity shut-off itself will reduce the amount PG&E customers spend on power, which could translate into a loss of about $100 million in spending in the fourth quarter, Herzon calculates. But that won't move the needle on the nation's economic output.

The shutdown is similar to hurricanes in many ways: Shoppers rush to stores in preparation for the storm. Business then grinds to a near-halt after the storm hits. And most of the postponed spending eventually happens.

But hurricanes also do far more damage, including to power lines, and it can take much longer to restore electricity. Once PG&E decides to restore power, it will be much easier for them to do so compared to if a storm had occurred.

Still, industry officials said they weren't given a lot of advance warning to prepare. Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailer's Association, an industry trade group, said her members received 11 hours' notice.

Supermarkets that lose perishable foods will likely have to eat the costs themselves, said Ronald Fong, CEO of the California Grocers Association. Insurance doesn't typically cover planned power outages, only outages caused by a natural disaster like an earthquake, Fong said.

Gary Minteer, retail consultant for hardware chain True Value, says the chain had stocked up on emergency supplies like generators at its distribution center in California knowing that PG&E could shut off electricity. He says that unlike wildfires and earthquakes, this outage affected a broader swath of people.

"What makes this different is that it's so widespread," he added. He says businesses worked hard to keep their doors opened, including a barber he saw move his business on the sidewalk.

Minteer serves as consultant to 30 True Value stores in the Northern California areas, including 18 that had no electricity because of the outage. All 18 have stayed open, with half of them using generators, he said. He said True Value is using this experience to better prepare for future outages. One lesson learned? The chain needs to stock up on beef jerky.

"We sold a year's worth of beef jerky in two days," he added.

In the meantime, workers in Northern California have to keep improvising.

Candice DeVries brought a flashlight with her to work at 4:30 a.m. Thursday when her shift started as a supervisor at a Starbucks in El Dorado Hills, a suburb in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento. It turned out the power worked there, but surrounding neighborhoods were dark.

About a half-dozen residents were lined up by the time the doors opened at 5 a.m., with more driving by or calling to see if the store was open, since another Starbucks a few minutes away was without power and had to stay closed.

"We already made our sales goal for the day. We've run out of a lot of our food," she said shortly before 1 p.m. "We've had an abundance of people the whole town. Even this lobby is filled to the max more than normal."

Starbucks managers from both stores were huddled in back, working on getting more supplies if the outages continued, as expected, for at least another day.

Aside from the orders, a lot of the customers working on laptops in the store were "new faces," DeVries said, apparent refugees from the outages.

"We're their saving grace, so we're glad to give them their morning coffee and their breakfast, " DeVries said.


D'Innocenzio reported from New York. AP Retail Writer Joseph Pisani in New York, AP Economics Writer Chris Rugaber in Washington, AP Writer Terence Chea in Sonoma, California, and AP Writer Donald Thompson in El Dorado Hills, California, contributed to this report.

Read More


  • According to an arrest report, a 22-year-old University of Central Florida student said he 'didn't need to sober up' because the situation was 'a joke' while he was at the hospital after Florida Highway Patrol troopers said he caused a crash that killed a Sanford man Friday morning. >> Read more trending news Troopers said Dean Kornblum, of Boca Raton, had alcohol in his system when he drove the front of his 2019 Audi into the back of a Nissan SUV driven by a 36-year-old Sanford man around 1:25 a.m. Troopers said the impact caused the SUV to overturn near the intersection of University Boulevard and Bibb Lane. They said the driver of the SUV, identified as Angel Dominguez, died on the scene. Kornblum is charged with DUI manslaughter. Troopers said after Kornblum was transported to the hospital for minor injuries, they noticed his eyes were glassy and bloodshot and that he smelled of alcohol. His arrest report says Kornblum told hospital staff that he'd drunk alcohol that day but said 'if the hospital finds anything in his blood tests it's because they put it in his system.' Hospital staff said Kornblum was uncooperative and laughing 'loudly and obnoxiously,' according to the arrest report. Troopers said that during an interview, Kornblum told them he'd 'been targeted by Gotham's finest.' Troopers said the crash remains under investigation. Kornblum was arrested at Orlando Regional Medical Center after being transported there for minor injuries following the crash, according to FHP.
  • A wreck involving a DeKalb County police car has shut down a busy intersection Friday afternoon, authorities said. The wreck happened near Covington Road and Young Road, police said in a tweet. No other information on the incident has been released. The Channel 2 Action News chopper shows the wreck involved five vehicles, including a patrol car. It’s unclear whether anyone was hurt or what caused the crash. An ambulance is on the scene. We’re working to learn more. — Please return to AJC.com for updates. In other news:
  • A Kansas City man has been arrested in the killing Monday of a transgender woman, the second to die in the city so far this year and at least the 20th across the nation, authorities said. The Associated Press reported that Brianna “BB” Hill, 30, also of Kansas City, was shot around 11:30 a.m. Monday. Hill, who went by Breonna Be’Be Hill on Facebook, was dead when officers arrived at the scene. >> Read more trending news Kansas City police Capt. Tim Hernandez told the AP that the alleged shooter, whose name has not been released, remained at the scene and was taken into custody. As of Wednesday, no charges had been filed, the news service said. Hernandez said he could not discuss the motive for the shooting but said it was not related to Hill’s status as a transgender woman, the AP reported. Hill is the second transgender woman killed so far this year in Kansas City, records show. According to the Human Rights Campaign, she is the 21st transgender woman or gender nonconforming person to die by violence across the country in 2018. The Advocate puts the nationwide number of slain transgender women at 20, however, noting some confusion about the gender identity of one victim, Jamagio Jamar Berryman. “Transgender Americans are facing an epidemic of violence,” the Advocate reported, citing 24 known killings of transgender Americans in 2018. The magazine said the number could be higher “as, undoubtedly, some victims were misgendered by police or media, or their deaths not reported at all.” “The majority of victims in any year tracked by The Advocate have been women of color,” the magazine stated. Click here to see a report by the Advocate on all the transgender people killed so far in 2019. Hill, who was black, was killed the day before jury selection was set to begin in Dallas for Edward Dominic Thomas, 29, who is accused of beating another black, transgender woman, Muhlaysia Booker, in April following a fender bender outside an apartment complex in the Oak Cliff section of the city. Booker, whose beating was caught on video, spoke publicly at a rally the week after the assault to call for justice in her case, the AP reported. The 23-year-old was found shot to death May 18 on a Dallas street. Kendrell Lavar Lyles, 33, is charged with murder in the killing and is a suspect in the homicides of two additional women. >> Related story: Suspect arrested in death of transgender Dallas woman and 2 others, police say The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that Thomas’ defense is arguing that Booker, who his attorneys call by her birth name and describe with male pronouns, brought the fight upon herself. Transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox spoke to Buzzfeed earlier this year about the rash of violence against the transgender community. “Your attraction to me as a trans woman is not a reason to kill me,” Cox said in an interview on BuzzFeed News’ Twitter morning show, “AM to DM.” “There’s this whole sort of myth that trans women are out there tricking people, that they deserve to be murdered, and that’s not the case.” Berryman, who also went by Ja’leyah-Jamar Berryman, was killed last month just across the Missouri state line in Kansas City, Kansas. Though area activists initially identified Berryman as a transgender woman, Berryman’s family released a video on social media clarifying that he identified as a gender nonconforming man. Berryman was found shot in the street around 2:30 p.m. Sept. 13 near 60th Street and Leavenworth Road, according to the Kansas City (Kansas) Police Department. Berryman died a short time later at an area hospital. Two days later, investigators released images of a person of interest and a white 2006 Pontiac G6 connected to the case. KMBC reported that the car was found abandoned in Kansas City, Missouri, three days after Berryman was slain. The person of interest, believed to be an ex-boyfriend of Berryman’s, has not been identified by police, the Advocate said. No arrests have been reported in Berryman’s death. Berryman’s cousin posted about his death on Facebook. “Ja’leyah-Jamar didn’t ask for this life,” Adriana Sanders wrote, according to the magazine. “No one can control who they love. God made us to live and love and to grow. It’s not our fault as a transgender woman or a homosexual man to want to live a normal life, wanting to be in love have a family, build your own legacy. “Because a man could not accept who he was as himself and individual, he felt the need to take my cousin’s life.” Berryman’s obituary said he “loved the artistry of designing hair, playing his game, playing with his nieces and nephews, nagging his siblings and spending quality time with his daughter, Ja’mya (Berryman).” Ja’mya was 5 years old when she lost her parent, KSHB in Kansas City reported. “She keeps, like (saying), ‘I want my daddy, where my daddy at?’ And it’s just, like, how do you answer that question to a 5-year-old?' Ronnie Gates, a friend and former longtime boyfriend of Berryman’s, told the news station. Berryman’s mother, along with other family members and friends, mourned Berryman by releasing red and black balloons in his honor three days after his killing. They gathered at the intersection where he was found. His young daughter was pictured sitting quietly on the sidewalk, wearing a backpack and gazing at the balloons near the curb. “That’s Jamar’s baby. She is now without a father,” a family member captioned the photo. “I’ll never be the same,” Berryman’s mother, Jennifer Gibson, told KSHB. “I’ll never be the same.” The Human Rights Campaign, which touts itself as the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, issued a statement following Berryman’s slaying. “This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets trans people of color -- particularly black trans women -- must cease,” read a post on the organization’s Twitter feed. Likewise, HRC officials spoke out this week about Hill’s killing. “Hill, like all of us, had hopes, dreams, aspirations and plans for the future,” HRC spokesperson Elliott Kozuch told Newsweek. “She had family and friends who are mourning this senseless loss, a loss that is part of a larger epidemic of violence against the transgender community in this country, spurred by a toxic mix of transphobia, racism, misogyny and unchecked gun violence.” Kozuch said while the transgender community has protections in employment, housing and public accommodations in Kansas City, there are no state nondiscrimination protections for the marginalized community. Transgender people are also not among the groups covered by Missouri’s hate crimes legislation. According to HRC data, all but five states across the country have laws addressing hate crimes, but the laws vary greatly in who they protect. Fifteen states do not address sexual orientation or gender identity in their hate crime laws, the HRC shows. See the Human Rights Campaign's map of hate crime laws in the U.S. below. Members of the LGBTQ community mourned Hill’s death on social media. “Rest in power, beloved,” one woman wrote on Facebook, adding a broken heart emoji. “Brianna Hill. #SayHerName.” Transgender actress, singer, teacher and activist Alexandra Billings also spoke out about Hill and every other transgender woman who has been killed or faces violence for who they are. “My sisters, I see you,” Billings wrote on Facebook. “I am with you because I am one of you, and we will survive this. Our government will not continue to ignore us, and our allies will speak up. We will revolt and we will rise. We are made of sturdy stuff. We have lived through the centuries and it will take more than a few violent men to eradicate us from the human experience. “We are part of this world and we deserve to be here. We will not let this stand.” Besides the death of Berryman, Hill’s slaying in Kansas City also comes on the heels of the June 25 killing of Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, who was found dead on the porch of an abandoned home on Spruce Avenue, court records show. She died of multiple gunshot wounds. Neighbors, who didn’t identify themselves out of fear of retaliation, told KCTV Lindsey had been badly beaten before they heard the gunshots that killed her. According to court records, investigators recovered five shell casings from around Lindsey’s body and tested the casings for DNA evidence. A profile was obtained and entered into CODIS, the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, which matched the genetic material to Marcus S. Lewis. Investigators learned that Lewis was in a relationship with the owner of a black Chevy Impala. The car was spotted by license plate readers driving in the area of the shooting around the time that the Kansas City Police Department received a report of shots fired about four blocks from where Lindsey’s body was found. Read the probable cause statement in the Brooklyn Lindsey slaying below. Charging Document in Brooklyn Lindsey Homicide by National Content Desk on Scribd Lewis, 41, was arrested in July and indicted last month on charges of second-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a firearm, court records show. Court records, which identify Lindsey as male and by her given name instead of her chosen one, show that Lewis told detectives he shot Lindsey after she propositioned him, “attempting to solicit a date,” and would not leave him alone after he declined her advances. He said he sold the gun, which he had bought earlier in the day, to an unknown person after the homicide. “l believe that Marcus Lewis poses a danger to the community or to any other persons because he is a habitual unregistered sex offender,” Detective Ryan Taylor wrote in a probable cause statement. “He is under investigation for aggravated domestic violence involving a firearm and an armed business robbery involving a firearm.” Court records indicate Lewis has also been indicted in that case. He remained in the Jackson County Jail Friday, awaiting trial. The unlawful firearm possession charge stems from Lewis’ April 1998 conviction of first-degree statutory rape, a felony in Missouri. As a convicted felon, he is not permitted to have a firearm. Lindsey was described by friends as an activist who worked with organizations like the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project. The organization spoke out last month after Berryman’s death. “As we hold space to remember and uplift Ja’Leyah, we must also recognize the factors at play that contribute to the dramatically increased risk of violence that trans women of color, especially black trans women, face every day,” a post on the group’s Facebook page read. “Restrictions on basic needs and services like housing, employment, safe streets, healthcare and protection under the law are just some barriers that put our sisters in harm’s way daily. “The discriminatory and violent systems that perpetuate violence against transgender women of color are a direct result of bias from within and outside our own communities. Ja’leyah’s light shone to a select few, but we will let her light shine on all of us today.” Kris Wade, with the Justice Project Kansas City, told CNN she knew Lindsey well and had helped her for more than a decade. She described Lindsey as a “sweetheart,” and an intelligent woman who did not come from the streets, but sometimes ended up there. “She felt that she had not lost her humanity out there,” Wade told CNN. Wade said Lindsey, who had been brutally beaten and hospitalized just weeks before her death, needed to get off the street, but Justice Project was unable to find her a bed. “We didn’t have any money to put her up,” Wade said. Lindsey died at the same intersection where a Hispanic transgender woman, Tamara Dominguez, 36, was run over and killed Aug. 15, 2015. The driver of the truck, Luis Sanchez, ran over Dominguez repeatedly, according to witnesses. Members of the LGBTQ community condemned the “atrocious” act in the days after Dominguez’s death. “There’s this horrible dark underbelly of hatred that goes on and on and on and on and it must stop,” Caroline Gibbs, director of the Transgender Institute of Kansas City, told KCTV at the time. Dominguez’s brother, Alberto Dominguez, spoke to the news station through a friend, Juan Rendon, who translated his Spanish to English. “He just want to say to the person that did that to her, that he (Alberto) would forgive them for what he did to her,” Rendon translated as Dominguez started to cry, the news station reported. “We are not here to judge nobody, and he (Alberto) hopes that person really feels bad for what he did.” Sanchez, who was initially charged with murder, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in December 2018 and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Now 31, he is serving his sentence at the Jefferson City Correctional Center, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections. Tamara Dominguez was loved, her brother told KCTV. “He doesn’t know she has family. She had her mom. She had her nephews, brothers and sisters. That person didn’t think about what he did,” Rendon translated.
  • A guest was injured on a ride at a New Jersey theme park Friday afternoon and required medical attention, park officials wrote on social media. >> Read more trending news The person was injured while aboard the 'Out on a Limb' ride at Storybook Land, The Press of Atlantic City reported. The condition of the guest was not immediately known, and the ride was shut down pending an investigation, park officials tweeted. The incident comes less than a week after a 10-year-old girl died from a fall off a ride at the Deerfield Township Harvest Festival. The 'Out on a Limb' attraction at Storybook Land is a spinning, elevated swing ride, WCAU reported. Riders must be at least 3 feet tall to ride 'with a responsible person,' or stand 42 inches or higher to ride alone, according to the Storybook Land website.
  • A man will spend 17 years behind bars after breaking into a woman’s Duluth apartment earlier this year.  Victor Laquan Harris, 23, was convicted of burglary in the first degree after less than 30 minutes of deliberation by the jury, Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office spokesman John Warr said in a news release.  During the March 7 incident at the Gables Sugarloaf Apartments, the victim called police after Harris knocked on her door but hid out of view of the peephole, Warr said. She described him to police as wearing a dark hat and hoodie.  The victim returned to watching TV after making the call, according to Warr. That’s when she heard Harris coming into her apartment through a bedroom window, the news release said.  She then locked herself in her bathroom and called police again, Warr said. While hiding, she heard Harris going through her belongings and knocking her things over, the news release said.  As Harris was fleeing the scene, officers caught him outside the apartment building, Warr said.  They were able to recover some of Davis’ belongings, such as her Playstation 4, game controller and purse, according to Warr.  Harris will serve 17 years in prison and three on probation. Warr said the jury handed down the harsh punishment because Harris was convicted of a burglary in that same apartment complex in 2014. He was still on probation in March.  In other news: 
  • President Donald Trump said in a tweet Friday that he will nominate Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette to replace Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy. >> Read more trending news 'Dan’s experience in the sector is unparalleled. A total professional,' the president tweeted,.'I have no doubt that Dan will do a great job!