BERKELEY — Take it from Mayor Jesse Arreguin, whose city got harangued in a social media firestorm for asking people who have “accessibility needs” or use life saving medical equipment to “please use your own resources” to get to an an area unaffected by PG&E’s power shutoff.
“Clearly the way it was written could have been done much more clearly and with greater sensitivity,” Arreguin told this news organization Thursday afternoon. “The messaging didn’t accurately reflect the efforts the city has undertaken.”
Residents blasted the city after seeing the tweet while also ripping it for being unprepared to deal with the power outage in parts of Berkeley.
“I hate that you assume all disabled folks in need of power have the resources to deal with something like this. You’re abandoning them. Stop it. Do the right thing,” said one Twitter user.
” ‘Use your own resources’ This tweet is insane,” said another.
“This is very disappointing. @CityofBerkeley is basically telling people with disabilities that they can either die or become bankrupt, no one will attempt to help those with medical needs for electricity. We are better than this,” wrote one woman.
Arreguin said the city has formed a task force with representatives of various departments to check on high-risk residents and find how they can help.
“We have been able to mobilize multiple city departments, to knock on doors, so people are not being left in the dark,” Arreguin said.
The mayor criticized PG&E for leaving it to cities and counties to deal with the fallout from its planed power outages, despite announcing them months ago.
Jim Morrissey, supervisor of Alameda County EMS, said if people with medical needs don’t have any other options they can call 911. Emergency personnel can determine whether the person needs to be transported or can be helped in some other way. Local fire departments countywide have been notified of high-risk patients who may have life-threatening issues, he added.
On his website, Arrequin advises residents to call the city’s customer service line at 311 or 510-981-2489 and “consider evacuating if you have accessibility needs or you use life-sustaining medical equipment that is compromised during an outage.”
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