In New York, the damage was less than anticipated, and
residents, as well as the teams charged with rebuilding after
the storm, chalked that up to luck. The storm’s trajectory kept
it farther north and west from New York than projected, and
the snow it dumped on the major cities was largely the light,
dry and fluffy variety that doesn’t drag down tree limbs and
power lines. But the easier-than-expected aftermath was not
only due to the good grace of Mother Nature. The excellent
preparation by the utilities and the contractors ensured a
faster, more efficient recovery.
The devastation and cleanup efforts of storms, such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, have been educational
for electrical contractors and led to new efforts focused on prevention and mobilization. With the kind of preliminary work
done to prevent excessive damage, utility companies say they
have seen a reduction in work following many storms, while
proactive efforts to organize response teams has made the
reconstruction faster and more efficient.
Let’s fast-forward to the storms in the Northeast this year.
Within a week, power was restored to nearly every business
and residence, and electrical contractors (ECs) that traveled as
far as a thousand miles had returned to their homes and workplaces. And that, the ECs say, was because they were poised
and ready to quickly rebuild where needed and mobilize to new
areas if necessary.
Hundreds of contractors took part in the cleanup. The storm
hit central and eastern Long Island to southern and eastern
New England with the most ferocity. In Long Island, up to 2
feet of snow fell in places; Massachusetts saw up to 3 feet from
Jan. 26–27, 2015.
For National Grid Utility, 28,000 customers (mostly in Massachusetts but also in Rhode Island and New Hampshire) were
out of power by Monday night as the storm hit, while only 650
of its customers in New York, 400 in Pennsylvania and about
1,000 in North Carolina lost power. Most of the outages were
near Cape Cod, Mass., and on the island of Nantucket, Mass., a
and planning slash
lengths and frequency
WHEN A MONSTER STORM zeroed in on the Northeast in late
January 2015—the first major storm of the year—preparation got underway
for cleanup and rebuilding of damage that hadn’t happened yet. Utilities set
up staging areas; contractors’ crews loaded their bucket trucks and headed
toward New York, Boston and beyond. Without knowing the scope of the
storm’s effect, utilities braced for up to 1 million customers without power,
and the utilities and contractors planned well before any infrastructure ever
felt the force of the wind, snow or ice.
> PROFILE BY CLAIRE SWEDBERG