Businesses struggle to keep up as residents scramble to buy generators

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) -- The recent Pacific Gas and Electric outages had people rushing to the store for a new generator and because of that, some businesses could barely keep them in stock.

Somerset resident Art Sommer said the demand for backup generators near his El Dorado County home has never been higher.

“Lines were 10 to 15 people long waiting for someone to bring them a generator,” Sommer told FOX40. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

By Tuesday, neighborhoods like Sommer’s had been in the dark for five straight days amid the latest round of PG&E power shutoffs.

Sommer said he bought a generator of his own but it was starting to malfunction.

“I’m running it hoping it’s not going to completely quit between now and the time PG&E decides we can get our power back on,” he explained.

He traveled down to Holley Generator and Equipment in Rancho Cordova hoping the mechanics there could fix it before he had to go without heat.

“Phones, every line we have, have been ringing all day,” said Holley Generator and Equipment manager Ryan Houston.

Houston said Sommer's repair order was just one of many. His business received a record number of calls about generators in recent weeks.

“When we do get shipments in we do sell out of them,” Houston said. “But we've tried to schedule our shipments as fast as we can. We’re just doing the best that we can, trying to get new generators or fix somebody's old generator, just to get them back up and powered.”

Some customers traveled as far as San Francisco to get their hands on a backup power system.

On Monday, the store had about three dozen portable generators available for sale but because so many people had been coming in to buy them, there’s only six left.

Mike Price traveled to the store from Fort Bragg where power had also been out.

“You can’t take a shower, you can’t flush the toilet, so I need this thing,” he told FOX40.

Price said he needs a working generator for his job but the one he has won’t even turn on.

“My generator needs to run but it’s been sitting in my garage for a little while and just wouldn’t start,” he said.

With no telling when power will be restored, many customers said they would rather shell out a few extra dollars than go without electricity altogether.

“It’s better than sitting in the dark," Sommer said.

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