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article imageStorm cuts power to shoppers at San Francisco's Union Square Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Dec 12, 2014 in Business
San Francisco - It looks as if California got its wish for rain as a storm hit the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday night. Rain and wind continued all day Thursday and is expected to let up by the weekend.
While the arrival of much needed water was welcome news, in some areas as much as three to four inches of rain, residents and businesses were not pleased. The disruption that so much water and wet weather caused all at once caught some off guard.
Just as the holiday shopping season has been gearing up, major shopping areas like downtown San Francisco's Union Square suffered a major retail set back. The increased rush of water caused an outage at a substation serving downtown San Francisco, just after 7:30 in the morning. The widespread outage was an inconvenience for residents. But for Union Square which is the heart of the City's shopping district, the resulting loss of power had many businesses within and near Union Square missing out on holiday retail revenues.
PG&E reported to the press that "Strong winds and heavy rain have caused widespread and significant damage throughout the PG&E utility’s 70,000-square-mile service area. There also has been significant snowfall. As of 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, about 35,000 customers were still without power." Flash flood warnings were issued for most of the SF Bay area, in particular San Mateo, Napa and Sonoma Counties as rivers and creeks filled up rapidly.
PG&E spokesman Joe Molica said most of the outages that impacted San Francisco are in the Richmond District, Marina and portions of the Tenderloin. The big issue in San Francisco as reports were just being released was a failure at the Larkin substation. This is what caused the early morning mishap at Union Square.
The usually very busy Union Square had shops closing early. The festive lights, skating rink and large Christmas Tree center piece next to the Dewey Monument pillar at the square's center was stark. The loss of lights dimmed the holiday spirit. People were advised to avoid flooded streets and stay away from traffic jams. Even as some power was restored to Union Square in the afternoon, the flow of customers was not there.
In addition to flooding, trees fell from the saturation of soil and sewers backed up. Ironically, for shoppers, it was reported that parking meters during the downpour were ignored by traffic authority. All available parking and meter attendants were need to help direct traffic.
Storm watch will remain in effect until after midnight.
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