More power to them — helping out down south
Most of the time a trip to the Turks and Caicos means an exciting vacation on a tropical island. But for two local linemen, it was all about the work and helping to get power restored to more than 2,000 people.
Cornwall Electric linemen Roddy McLeod and Cory Warner recently returned from the Caribbean and said it was quite an experience.
“They asked for volunteers,” said McLeod, who explained the utility down in the Turks and Caicos, TCI, is owned by Fortis, as is Cornwall Electric. The country suffered severe damage when Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria hit the islands in September.
“There was a lot of damage,” he said. “We were on a fairly small island in Turks and Caicos called Grand Turks. There are about 2,500 people there and there were about 400 poles broken and about 200 transformers damaged.”
Fortis was quick to respond to the emergency by sending down a crew from Cornwall Electric and other sister utilities less than a week after the hurricane damage. While McLeod and Warner spent almost a month, they still had to leave with some of the island still in the dark without electricity.
“They are still not all up and running,” said McLeod. “It will be probably another month and a half before everybody is up.”
McLeod said the living conditions for the crews weren’t too bad. They were put up in a hotel, but there wasn’t any electricity, and therefore no air conditioning.
“They had a generator that ran most things, but not the air conditioning,” he said. “But once we got power to the hotel we got air conditioning.”
McLeod said it was pretty hot and 13 or 14 hour days were standard.
This isn’t the first time McLeod said they were down south helping restore power. They were also in Grand Cayman Islands in 2004 after Hurricane Ivan.
“There was another crew that went to Turks a few years back,” said Warner.
Both men said it was a positive experience for them and everyone was friendly and patient.
“Everybody was nice and polite,” said McLeod. “Nobody was yelling ‘Where is my power?’ or anything else.”
McLeod said even after being without power for a few weeks, the locals were very patient and understood the damage that happened.
“It reminds you about how to work without the equipment you are used to,” he said. “We didn’t have all the bells and whistles we normally have so we had to adjust for that.”
Crews had to work with equipment that was already there, but more equipment was being brought in. However it was a slow process because everything had to come in by boat.
“A lot of stuff normally comes from Florida, but they had their own problems during hurricane season, so it slows things down a little bit more,” said McLeod. “Things are coming from a little bit further away, Louisiana and up the coast more.”
Both Warner and McLeod agreed they would without hesitation go back down and help again.
Regional Manager Jackie Baird said they had a group of employees who volunteered to go to the islands to help.
“We weren’t able to send everyone, but those who were able to go and had their shots and their passports were the first to get chosen,” she said. “We have a list of other employees who are ready and available to go. We are prepared to send more.”
Baird said the company was anticipating sending down another crew.
Cory Warner and Roddy McLeod travelled down to the Turks and Caicos to help restore power to the thousands who have been without.