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'Access Is Horrible': PG&E Faces Challenges Getting Power Back To 60,000 Customers In Foothills

COLFAX (CBS13) -- Tens of thousands of PG&E customers in the Sierra Foothills are waiting for their power to return after a record-breaking winter storm wreaked havoc on trees and power lines in the area.

Mike Schutte, PG&E Sierra Field Operations superintendent, told CBS13 that as of Tuesday afternoon, 207 outages were affecting nearly 60,000 customers.

The biggest obstacle to getting power back? "Access," says Schutte, "It's the snow. It's a slow-go."

Meanwhile, customers like Mackenzie Herren have been stranded for days with no power.

"I've never seen a situation like this," the Colfax resident tells CBS13. "So yeah, I'm over it."

Mackenzie says tree limbs -- and, at times, entire trees -- have been falling like clockwork around their home.

"Every 30 minutes or so, you'll hear them break," she said.

Schutte says those trees are at the root of the problem.

"It's called the Sierra cement for a reason," he says of the snowpack. "The trees just can't take the weight."

Schutte says the saturated ground adds trouble from below, leaving the trees and the power lines around them without a fighting chance.

Herren says he's sympathetic toward the elements PG&E has to face to get the power back, but he wishes the company would offer more communication: "When are they actually coming? How many things do they have to get to before us?"

Schutte stresses the need for patience, although he admits it's easier said than done.

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