More power to them — help­ing out down south

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - FRONT PAGE - LOIS ANN BAKER lbaker@post­media.com

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.

LOIS ANN BAKER/CORN­WALL STAN­DARD-FREEHOLDER

Cory Warner and Roddy McLeod trav­elled down to the Turks and Caicos to help re­store power to the thou­sands who have been with­out.

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