One woman in her 80s tripped over another resident who had fallen on the landing in a steep stairwell. Others got turned around, even in their own apartments, and cried out for help.
At least 20 seniors with wheelchairs and walkers were essentially trapped, in the dark, in a low-income apartment complex in Northern California during a two-day power shut-off aimed at warding off wildfires.
Residents of the Villas at Hamilton in Novato, north of San Francisco, say they were without guidance from their property management company or the utility behind the blackout as they faced pitch-black stairwells and hallways and elevators that shut down.
“We were surprised by how dark it was,” said Pamela Zuzak, 70, who uses a walker to get around. “There was nothing, nothing lit. It was like going into a darkroom closet, pitch black, you couldn’t see in front of you.”
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. shut off power to more than 2 million people over the weekend to prevent its equipment from sparking fires amid hot, dry gusts. It was just one of four preemptive rounds of shut-offs initiated by the utility this month.
By PG&E’s estimate, more than 900,000 people were without power Wednesday, some of them since Saturday, while crews battled fires in Northern and Southern California.