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The Next Emergency

Release Date: 2015-07-22

Last week, Long Beach experienced one of the biggest public emergencies in the city's history, with thousands of downtown residents losing electricity for three days due to a Southern California Edison power failure. This was a very serious situation, and created a real hardship for many residents and businesses. Thankfully, due to a strong response from our city team, our public safety personnel, many volunteers, and community partner agencies, we saw no serious crime, injuries, or property damage. Seniors and people with medical needs were assisted, food and water were distributed door to door, shelter and showers were provided at Chavez Park, and our City came through this stronger than ever.

I want to extend my thanks, on behalf of the whole city, to all the people and organizations who helped. Our Police and Fire Departments, Community Emergency Response Team, Parks and Recreation staff, Health officers, the DLBA, Red Cross, Food Bank of Southern California, Molina Heathcare and countless volunteers really showed incredible community spirit. I’ve never been prouder of Long Beach. I also want to thank Southern California Edison for their contributions to lessen the impact of the outage and especially the technicians that worked day and night to restore power. 

Now that the power is back on to all customers, we will be taking a long, hard look at why this happened, and what needs to be done to keep it from occurring in the future. Southern California Edison has not yet identified a cause of the underground fires that took out the power, but they are conducting an investigation to determine the cause. 

I have also requested the California Public Utilities Commission to conduct their own investigation. It is important that we know what happened so we can prevent another power failure from occurring again. 

Meanwhile, I want to encourage everyone to use this experience as a reminder of how important it is to be prepared for an emergency. Whether it’s a storm, rolling blackouts, or the inevitable earthquake, Long Beach will experience other challenges in the future. Everyone needs to be ready with a supply of water and nonperishable food, flashlights with batteries, and a radio powered by batteries, a crank, or solar cells. The more prepared each of us is, the more we free up public safety officers to deal with other challenges. 

In September, the city council will also be hosting a retreat to discuss emergency preparedness, and the following week on September 19, Long Beach will host a Community Emergency Response Team training from 10 AM to 5 PM at Heartwell Park. I encourage you or a family member to attend and learn about how best to prepare for civil emergencies..

Here is a full guide to help your family prepare:


Thanks to the great response from our community, the power outage was resolved without any major incident. Let’s help make sure Long Beach can manage any future emergencies just as well.