Power outages that struck San Mateo County during one of the year’s hottest weekends left Redwood City residents some of the hardest hit, including the city’s cooling and smoke relief center.
With wildfires from around the Bay Area continuing to fill the county with smoke compounded by a heat wave over the weekend, Redwood City established a cooling and smoke relief center at the Red Morton Community Center. A downed power line on Industrial Boulevard caused a power outage Saturday.
“We have a backup generator but we haven’t experienced having a blackout and the cooling center at the same time,” said Chris Beth, the Redwood City Parks and Recreation director.
Beth said the center’s air conditioning unit went down for no more than two hours after the generator provided power to lights and outlets but not the air conditioning unit. Despite the system lapse, the building remained cool enough to continue serving the fewer than 40 residents who used the facility all weekend.
“It was something we never experienced before but now we know and will address it,” said Beth about plans to access a new system to prevent the error from recurring.
During the previous heat wave in min-August, Beth said around six residents used the facility over a span of four days. In nonpandemic times when community amenities are made available, the center may see one resident enter to keep cool, he said.
“It’s different of course with COVID and centers closed. Residents have less of a choice to go to other places, so this is more than what we typically see,” said Beth, adding social distancing protocol was followed, including mandatory mask wearing.