Puerto Rico Restoration Work is Tough, but Rewarding
Take a look at this restoration mission of a lifetime, told through the eyes of our crew members during their time in Puerto Rico.
After a month of challenging restoration work on a devastated island far from home, 82 Dominion Energy electric crews and support staff returned to Virginia in mid-February safe and sound.
“We had long, 14-hour work days that would start at 5 and go until 7 in the evening,” said Sean Feely, a returning lineman from Mechanicsville, Va. “It was hard to see people who had been out of lights for months . . . but great to be able to see their faces smile and light up when we were able to get the power back on and how happy they were.”
Daily challenges included high temperatures, intense humidity, hazardous terrain, poor road conditions and uninvited visitors in the form of iguanas and boa constrictors.
Many of the residents had been living without electric service since Sept. 20, 2017, when Hurricane Maria wiped out much of the island’s infrastructure. The Dominion Energy contingent worked through unfamiliar and harsh conditions to restore power in the mountainous Carolina region of Puerto Rico, about 30 minutes northeast of San Juan. Daily challenges included high temperatures, intense humidity, hazardous terrain, poor road conditions and uninvited visitors in the form of iguanas and boa constrictors. All in all, the team managed to set 226 new poles, rework hundreds more, and restring or replace over 14 miles of electric wire to restore close to 2,000 customers.
When Dominion Energy crews arrived January 18, only 50% of the residents in the Carolina region had power. A month later, 85% in that region were back on and about 80% of all Puerto Ricans had electric service. Returning employees said they were touched and grateful for the hospitality and constant appreciation shown by the local people. Residents who had been without power for months still found a way to cook and deliver lunches to our line crews nearly every day. When our crews were reassigned to the other side of the mountain, the food kept arriving!
The company’s emergency response required months of pre-planning and coordination with utility partners in Puerto Rico along with peers in transportation, supply chain, safety, travel services and many other disciplines. The logistical effort included the shipment by barge of 57 bucket trucks and other vehicles, as well as hundreds of transformers and materials needed to support this successful and complex restoration project.