November 07, 2019

Harris Statement on PG&E’s Failure to Ensure Equal Access to Wildfire Recovery Tools

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Thursday released a statement as Californians seeking assistance from PG&E in the aftermath of the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County experienced numerous obstacles, including a lack of Spanish-language forms and PG&E staff asking for IDs, which are not necessary for the claims process.

“Over the past month, communities across California have been forced to endure mass blackouts, some lasting for nearly a week, in order to prevent PG&E’s aging and faulty equipment from sparking a deadly wildfire. Now, as these communities begin to recover, it has become clear that PG&E was not prepared to properly assist many families, particularly immigrant families and families that primarily speak Spanish.

“My staff has been a regular presence on the ground at the Healdsburg Local Assistance Center (LAC) since the outbreak of the Kincade Fire in late October. At the Healdsburg LAC, they have observed that PG&E claims forms are only available in English, despite the fact that the burden of last month’s power shutoffs fell disproportionately on Spanish-speaking communities. A PG&E representative has assured my staff that they are currently in the process of translating these, and I hope they will honor that commitment.

“Further, my staff has observed PG&E employees asking individuals for their IDs. There is no reasonable justification for PG&E staff to make this request, especially given the hostile environment that this administration has fostered towards immigrant communities. PG&E leadership must immediately make it clear that this is unacceptable and that everybody, regardless of status, is eligible for recovery assistance.

“As the nation’s largest utility, PG&E has a unique role to play in the continued safety of the communities it serves. That starts with ensuring that every Californian who has been impacted by wildfires and blackouts has equal access to the tools they need to begin to put their lives back together.”

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