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Thousands of residents lose power due to the storm

3/26/2012, 1:19 p.m.

Utility crews scrambled Monday, March 26, to restore power to thousands of customers affected by outages blamed on the first storm to strike the Southland this spring.

As of 5 a.m., 3,912 Southern California Edison customers were still without electricity, down from 8,126 late Sunday night. According to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, 7,500 customers were without power last night, and service had been restored to all but 2,500 customers as of about 8 a.m., about 1,500 of them in the Mid-Wilshire area.

Crews worked through the night to restore power as quickly as possible, said SCE spokeswoman Mashi Nyssen. Residents who see downed power lines should call 911 and never come near them, she said. Nyssen also recommended using flashlights rather than candles in a power outage.

In Vernon, about 100 customers lost electrical service for about 90 minutes beginning about 3:20 p.m. Sunday, when more than a dozen power poles collapsed in the 3000 block of South Atlantic Boulevard, according to the Vernon Light & Power Department.

The Southland outages were blamed on rain and fierce winds, which downed power lines.

Among the affected customers was the Norwalk Meadows Nursing Center at 10625 Leffingwell Road, where the power failed and the backup generator could not power patients' oxygen machines.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department sent a paramedic team and 10 ambulances to the nursing center at 9:49 p.m. Sunday to transport patients to another facility, said fire dispatch supervisor Phil Ulloa. Four patients were evacuated, but the power was restored by 11:25 p.m.

Traffic lights were dark in much of Culver City Sunday, and a multiplex movie theater in Sherman Oaks handed out rain checks after the power failed at about 2:45 p.m.

"We were watching 'Trout Fishing in the Yemen," said one customer. "The generators came on and they escorted us out."

Sixteen cities served by Edison in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties reported blackouts Sunday, including Alhambra, Beaumont, Montebello, Santa Clara, Simi Valley, Oxnard, Long Beach, Signal Hill, Redondo Beach, Inglewood, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton, Fountain Valley, Crestline and Rialto.

Dry weather was forecast to return to the region.