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'Worst That I've Seen': PG&E Faces Unprecedented Challenges To Get Power Back In Foothills

(FORESTHILL) -- Adam Wright, the executive vice president of operations and chief operations officer for Pacific Gas and Electric, says the damage caused by the recent, record-setting snow storm in the Sierra Foothills is the worst he's seen.

In a press conference Friday, Wright said thousands of employees were working around the clock to get power back to roughly 36,000 customers in the area. He said crews were facing unprecedented conditions working to repair 5,000 separate locations with damage.

"I haven't seen damage like this in my time in the utility profession which is over two decades," Wright said.

While the region is used to snow, the trees seemed to set this storm apart.

"Kind of a one-two punch," says Dave Atkinson, assistant director of the Placer County Office of Emergency Services.

He told CBS13 that because of a lack of snow in past years, trees didn't build a resistance for the snow. That, along with high winds before the storm, left trees without a fighting chance.

CBS13 asked PG&E how the company would prevent a power outage like this from happening again. Joe Wilson, PG&E Regional Vice President, referenced a plan announced earlier this year to underground 10,000 miles of electrical distribution.

"Many of those miles will be in these areas we are restoring," Wilson said.

Until then, work continues to get the power back on for those in the Foothills. PG&E says in the Northern Sierra region, 10% should be back on by Sunday, 30% should be back on by January 5th. For customers in the more inaccessible areas, it could still be weeks.

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