October 8, 2022 When Extreme Weather Strikes, Our Crews Help Get Power Restored
THROUGH HURRICANES AND OTHER STORMS GREAT SOUTHWESTERN CONSTRUCTION IS READY TO ASSIST WITH EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Peak Atlantic hurricane season is here, and although the season began quietly, that all changed in recent weeks as Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico and Hurricane Ian became the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Michael in 2018.
A Category 4 hurricane, Ian roared to shore near Fort Myers, Fla. with 150 mph winds on Sept. 28, and ravaged the state. By nightfall, more than 2 million residents had lost power, according to NBC.
More than 160 workers from four MYR Group subsidiaries were dispatched to Florida and the Carolinas to assist with restoring power to communities.
Ahead of the storm’s landfall, The L.E. Myers Co. (L.E. Myers) sent crews from the Marshalltown, Iowa district – staging them in Florida starting on Sept. 26. Crews from L.E. Myers’ Indianapolis District, Harlan Electric Company’s Rochester Hills, Mich. District and Great Southwestern Construction were there the following day.
Sturgeon Electric also dispatched crews from Kansas to assist in North Carolina beginning Sept. 29.
Hazel and Doug Witter of Ormond Beach were among the millions of Floridians who lost power. Hazel sent a note of thanks to L.E. Myers through Facebook for restoring their power sooner than they had expected.
“We appreciate them coming to Florida … leaving their families, to come here to restore our power.” She wrote. “Thank you so much! It doesn’t feel like that’s enough, but it’s from our hearts.”
Hurricanes and other severe weather can wreak havoc on transmission and distribution power lines, substations, and towers, cutting people off from the power they need to survive. When these disasters strike, utilities often need extra crews to deploy for emergency response, and often request it through the mutual assistance network or directly from other utilities.
MYR Group subsidiaries from Alaska to New England have experience responding to all manner of extreme weather emergencies. As different seasonal weather threats strike, our subsidiaries specializing in transmission and distribution work stand prepped and ready to offer emergency response and restoration services to our customers and their communities.
Our emergency crews have rebuilt hundreds of miles of power lines ranging from 4kV to 765kV, following storm damage.
“Each emergency comes with unique challenges that must be recognized and addressed, but it is rewarding work,” said Michael Mumm, a regional vice president with L.E. Myers. “A lot of the workers within the trade really want to be involved when electric service needs to be restored to a devastated area. One of the rewards of this effort is when communities extend their appreciation and thanks toward the hard work that is being exercised when you’re out there.”
Great Southwestern Construction, Two Other MYR Subsidiaries Responded to Critical Electric Needs Following 2021 Hurricanes
June through November marks the official Atlantic hurricane season, with the heaviest activity typically in August, September and October. As of the first week of October, there have been 10 named storms including four hurricanes (winds 74 mph or higher). Regardless of the forecasts, utilities remain prepared in case of emergencies like Hurricane Ian and reach out when disasters strike.
Mumm explained that, as contractors, we collaborate with our utility customers who will explain the need and offer to release a certain number of crews. Then district level management and field leadership will evaluate their workload, project schedules and business needs and determine how many crews to release to support restoration efforts. Often, crews are deployed from many states and MYR Group locations across the US.
Last year, three MYR Group subsidiaries worked to get power back on during a devastating hurricane season that hit Louisiana particularly hard. Hurricane Ida slammed into the gulf state on Aug. 29, 2021, with 150 mph winds. Tied for the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in Louisiana, Ida knocked out power for 1.5 million people, according to The Washington Post. In addition to damaging substations and distribution lines, Ida toppled transmission lattice towers. Hurricane Nicholas pounded the region again just weeks later.
L.E. Myers, Great Southwestern Construction and Sturgeon Electric all mobilized crews to assist with clean up, restore power and repair damaged electrical structures, including monopoles and lattice towers in the devastated northwestern Gulf Coast.
Robert Harris, operations manager, and Mike Strong, construction manager, deployed with Great Southwestern Construction crews to Mandeville and Hammond, La. to repair damaged distribution lines. The team worked 16-hour days, seven days a week cleaning up and restoring power to residents and businesses.
According to Harris and Strong, each storm brings different challenges and unique safety hazards that can include unique wildlife threats. To stay safe, all crew members test lines for voltage and grounding before touching or beginning any work. During this particular response, crews also had to watch out for debris, snakes, alligators, and poison ivy since many of the power lines run through wooded areas.
Lance Stadler, a Sturgeon Electric superintendent, worked with roughly 30 people to repair backbone mainlines and distribution lines north of New Orleans that had sustained damage from high winds.
The community appreciated all the crews’ dedication and speed. One resident of Hammond, La. wrote to L.E. Myers to thank them for their hard work.
“With all of the destruction, my fellow neighbors and I figured it would be several weeks before we would somewhat be able to get back to a normal life in our town. However, because of the dedication of your men and the many other people that came to Louisiana to help, we were back up with power way sooner than we thought,” the letter read.