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CONTRACTORS to the RESCUE.

Transmission & Distribution World; 12/1/2005
By: Stuart Lewis

ON AUG. 29, 2005, HURRICANE KATRINA, WITH ITS 145-MPH WINDS AND POUNDING RAIN, slammed into New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, demolishing transmission and distribution systems that, in most cases, had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Because weather predictions placed a devastating hit from Katrina somewhere along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama, power companies servicing these areas, including Entergy and Mississippi Power Co., prepared for restoration by lining up help from power line contractors and utilities that were out of the path of the storm. How these contractors responded to this unprecedented disaster and the hazardous conditions under which they worked, often for 14 to 16 hours a day, is a story of dedication to helping people who had lost so much.

Bucket TrucksPREPARATION

Storm preparation among utilities and power line contractors is ongoing. But once a year, utilities from the Southeastern region of the Unites States, along with some contractors, meet as a group called Texas Mutual Assistance to discuss the upcoming hurricane season, any new technologies and what can be learned from previous storms. Particular utilities might enter into storm agreements with power line contractors and other utilities at any given time. Sometimes they request assistance just prior to an approaching storm. However, a contractor anticipating a utility's need for assistance might initiate the call.

NOTIFICATION AND GEARING UP

Jim Bowen, regional manager of L.E. Myers Co. (Rolling Meadows, Illinois), coordinates the storm-response efforts of all MYR Group subsidiaries, including the L.E. Myers Co., Harlan Electric Co., Hawkeye Construction, Sturgeon Electric Co. and Great Southwestern Construction. "If we see a storm coming, we try to be more proactive and call ahead and let the utility know we're there if they need us, and that we are willing to gather whatever resources we can in sending help," Bowen said. "With Hurricane Katrina, we worked with Entergy in the Gulf Coast area." As it turned out, L.E. Myers already had crews working in Florida doing restoration work following Katrina's pass across the state, and Bowen said that "once Katrina went into the Gulf, we probably had three or four days to realign our resources for what we knew was going to be a storm situation worse than what we came up against in Florida."

Bowen recalls when utilities used to wait until a storm hit before requesting resources, which would take several days to receive. "What power companies do now," he said, "is pull the trigger a couple of days ahead of time in an effort to be proactive rather than reactive in their preparation."

For example, Ron Jones, director of power operations, Central Region, Henkels & McCoy (Salem, Illinois), said, "On Katrina, we received calls from Mississippi Power and proceeded to try to get releases from some of our customers. We started getting crews released a couple of days before Katrina hit. We had to get our current work cleaned up and secure so that we could leave a job safely, so it's important to get advance notice."

Entergy made contact with InfraSource Transmission Services (Mesa, Arizona), with whom they have a storm agreement in place. By coincidence, InfraSource had a transmission project scheduled to be underway with Entergy, so the utility knew who they were and their capabilities. Also by coincidence, Fred Haag, InfraSource's president, was in Jackson, Mississippi, when Katrina hit and was able to go directly to the storm center and finalize the storm agreement. He said, "After finalizing the storm agreement with Entergy, I drove 40 miles away from Jackson to get my cell phone working so I could call to get the crews on their way."

PAR Electrical Contractors, a Quanta Services' operating unit, and L.E. Myers also had storm agreements in place with the utilities threatened by Katrina. Speaking for PAR (Kansas City, Missouri), Tim Warlen, regional vice president, said, "We have verbal conversations with utilities throughout the year, and agreements are in place so we are prepared to respond quickly to emergency situations. The only contract items that might be confirmed before a storm are the actual labor rates." Bowen explained that utilities have agreements with various contractors as part of their preparedness, so a vehicle is in place when there is a need for help. "All they have to do is pick up the phone and call," he said.

The financial part of the storm agreement contract between contractors and utilities for storm restoration work is generally on a cost-plus basis. Warlen said, "For the most part restoration is such an unknown that the easiest method is a cost-plus agreement, because you just don't know until after the storm hits what you're dealing with."

Shaw Energy Delivery Services (Charlotte, North Carolina) gives the utility its rates on equipment and people per hour upfront. "Then we have a cost-plus arrangement on certain things that we have to buy and that gets passed on," said Mike Webber, vice president, Southern Region, T&D.

Henkels & McCoy (Blue Bell, Pennsylvania) also works on a cost-plus basis. "When we get a call, we submit rates to the utility if we don't already have the rates established," said Brian Ellis, director of power, East Region, Henkels & McCoy. "Then we wait for their approval before we send crews. It's just done through a purchase order."

Contractors doing line work for a utility cannot just pull their crews off a job and send them to do storm restoration work before the utility releases them. Only after consideration of the urgent work a utility may have on its own system and how many workers can be spared can a contractor reassign crews for storm restoration work. "Utilities are pretty gracious in releasing the resources," Bowen said. "We've had a few utilities that have been hesitant, mostly because of their own work load than anything else."

Ellis said that Henkels & McCoy didn't get a release from all the utilities for which it had crews working, "but probably for 75% we did. There were a couple of utilities that did not release because of critical work such as outages that were scheduled through PJM that they had to keep."

WORKERS SENT

The number of power line workers sent by contractors to restore power to areas hit by Katrina was high: M.J. Electric (Iron Mountain, Michigan), an InfraSource company, sent 155 workers from the Colchester, Connecticut, area; Henkels & McCoy sent 470; MYR Group sent about 300 people; and Shaw Energy sent about 250 employees.

According to Fred Haag, Entergy asked InfraSource to assign roughly 50 people equipped to do any kind of transmission work. "For Katrina, we had a total of about 100 people split approximately half and half between transmission and distribution," Haag said.

Gordon Liles, project manager, Dashiell Ltd. (Houston, Texas), an InfraSource company that specializes in substation work, said he had about 10 people on an ongoing project for a major refinery in Pascagoula, Louisiana, when Katrina hit. He and his men were evacuated as the storm approached, but then returned afterward to do restoration work at that same refinery. "When we came back to help with the recovery efforts, we ended up with considerably more workers - about 35 people," said Liles.

At the peak of the recovery work, Quanta Services had more than 2000 line personnel on the job, 400 of which were PAR employees, according to Warlen. He said, "We sent 160 people to Florida in anticipation of Katrina starting Aug. 25. After that work was done, these workers joined the 250 more that had come from throughout our operations to work in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana after Katrina swept through that area."

Regarding who got the assignments for Katrina storm restoration work, Ellis said, "At Henkels & McCoy we offered it to everyone. If they refused to go, they did not have to go. As long as the utility releases the crews, everyone is free to go. Seniority doesn't matter."

At MYR Group, Bowen said, "Once I get word back from our major divisions on who is available, I'll get a roll together and contact the utility to say we have so many resources available and ask what they need. Depending on the storm severity, they may not want to get resources from long distances, but for Katrina, they were willing to take them from wherever they could."

SUPPLIES

The supplies and equipment taken for Katrina restoration resembled an exodus, because it was evident to all contractors that the stay would be lengthy and supplies would be difficult to replenish once they were in the area. So they stocked up: M.J. Electric sent 55 bucket trucks, 18 diggers, 12 pole trailers and a number of support pickup trucks. "All the trucks were fully equipped with tooling, nuts, bolts and lags," Mike Dougherty, superintendent with M.J. Electric, said.

InfraSource Transmission Services brought its big cranes, low-ground-pressure equipment, bundle pullers and tensioners and other equipment for transmission work. They were equipped to work on 115-kV wood and steel pole lines through triple-bundle 500 kV on lattice towers, according to Haag.

L.E. Myers ended up taking a wide variety of equipment. "We tried to be proactive to see if the utility knew of any special needs," Bowen said. "We sent some specialty equipment including a hydraulic crane on tracks designed to work in swampy areas. We also sent some diggers and bucket trucks on tracks."

"While we worked distribution only, we did carry two transmission crews with us," Shaw's Webber said. "We carried two dozers and a track hoe, which is considered transmission equipment, but they were utilized probably 75% to 80% of the time we were there. It has a hydraulic boom and can lift up debris and trees to make space to work."

Jones said Henkels & McCoy stocked up on a large amount of water and some food. "We also took all the fuel we could haul in addition to the normal equipment plus some off-road equipment," he added. Henkels & McCoy brought supplies in from Pennsylvania after the work had started - everything from socks and underwear to medical supplies to canned food - whatever it could send down to help its workers. The difficulty of getting supplies persisted as the crews proceeded with their assigned work in the Gulf Coast area.

GETTING THE JOB DONE

Fuel and materials were in short supply in the first week of restoration work because of the high demand and difficulty of travel. However, the power companies got high marks from the contractors for obtaining and distributing materials such as poles, cross arms and transformers. Wire was in short supply, so crews often upgraded to a heavier wire than would normally be used on a circuit because that was all that was available. Ryan Crull, area manager, Central Region, Henkels & McCoy, said "Wire was hard to get as well as sleeves. The utility had us put wire back up that was a different size. They upgraded a little if they had it."

Henkels & McCoy also faced a shortage of diesel fuel, particularly gasoline. "We brought in some of our own diesel fuel for the bucket and line trucks; and Entergy did very well to make sure we had enough diesel. There was still a great shortage of gasoline," said Dan Riesen, supervisor, East Region, Henkels & McCoy.

"Supplies were in high demand, and with so many crews it was hard for the power company and our group to keep enough materials," said Eddie Spence, line supervisor, Shaw Energy Delivery Services. "They just couldn't keep the amount of material needed on hand and distribute it quickly. We often used different types of material than would normally be used, such as a heavier duty insulator rather than the normal smaller insulator. Sometimes we had to skip or bypass an area to wait for a particular type of transformer or other item. Once it came in, we would go back and install it. We did try to salvage as much as possible, but often the salvaged material was unusable."

Stock such as poles, arms, hardware and transformers was used up almost immediately, according to M.J. Electric's Dougherty. "With the large number of crews working, it took the utility probably to the middle of the week before they started getting enough hardware. Transformers eventually came in, but they were a problem for a while also. We reused transformers where we could."

WORK LOCATIONS

Contract crews worked throughout the state of Mississippi and in the New Orleans area on Hurricane Katrina restoration. They also worked in Texas following Hurricane Rita, which made landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border on Sept. 23, 2005, about three weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck. InfraSource Transmission Services worked in Louisiana and Texas and had obligated its crews to Entergy. M.J. Electric's crews were in Wiggins and Columbia, Mississippi, on Katrina and in Orange, Texas, after Rita. Their work in Mississippi was for Mississippi Power and Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association, an REA cooperative that serves Columbia.

"Pearl River Valley was probably 80% down," Dougherty said. "We were two weeks on Mississippi Power work and then a week with the REA."

MYR Group worked in the Jackson, Mississippi, area as well as in New Orleans for Entergy. Henkels & McCoy crews found themselves in many cities and small towns across Mississippi, including Hattiesburg, Lucedale, Pass Christian, Indianola and Natchez, as well as in Bogalusa, Louisiana. They worked for Mississippi Power and Coastal Electric. Following Rita, they were in Orange, Texas, and Sulphur, Louisiana, for Entergy.

Warlen of PAR Electrical said, "We started out with Katrina with Florida Power & Light and moved from there to support restoration efforts for Entergy, CenterPoint and Mississippi Power." PAR's crews worked in Slidell, Louisiana; Winnie, Texas; New Orleans; and throughout the Gulf Coast region. Shaw Energy crews worked first in Jackson, Mississippi, and then went on to Matairie, Louisiana, outside of New Orleans. Their work was for Entergy and Mississippi Power.

The contractor crews worked mostly rebuilding distribution lines, usually starting at a substation and working out to the meters, including main feeders as well as lateral circuits. "Henkels & McCoy did a lot of distribution projects and many of them were in backyards that were hard to get to, so we had to climb a lot," Jones explained. "The town of Orange was pretty devastated by Rita. The utility gave us one substation, and we took care of the circuits coming out of it. We started at the sub and worked our way out."

Bucket Truck Rental

PAR Electrical's Chris Griffin, superintendent, reported, "Everything was in a rice field or swamp and the mosquitoes were just terrible."

Commenting on a specific job, Henkels & McCoy's Riesen said, "We worked on a circuit out of Sulphur, Louisiana, that had 82 spans of 795-mcm wire down on the ground. On the main feeder, more than 100 cross arms and 30 to 40 poles were broken. In Bogalusa, Louisiana, our crews installed in just a few days 8 miles (13 km) of three-phase conductor line that was totally down."

Some of the crews encountered heavy wire that had to be dealt with by hand in areas not accessible to bucket trucks. Shaw Energy had that experience as recounted by Eddie Spence, who said, "We worked with extremely large wire in a nontruck-accessible area. That meant that we had to climb the poles. It was 795-mcm heavy wall wire and extremely difficult to handle off the pole. Because the area was not truck accessible, we had to come up with some very creative ways to get new poles and material in. We just had a lot of rope and dollies and used whatever we could - trees, for example - to gin our poles into position."

In the New Orleans area, Shaw Energy's crews had to contend with 954-mcm wire on wood poles and arms, which Webber reported leaned the poles over or broke them off.

RESTRICTED ZONES

The linemen often had to work in restricted zones. Roadblocks were set up by the police or National Guard to prevent entry except for emergency or restoration workers. And in the first few days after Katrina hit New Orleans, National Guard troops were often visible and even accompanied the crews as the restoration work proceeded. Haag explained that everything south of I-10, the east-west highway across southern Mississippi and Louisiana, was a restricted zone. "In the first week or so, our distribution crews were escorted on a number of occasions by National Guard forces because of the shooting in the area and violence. On two occasions they had to move because of security risks, but fortunately we were never face to face with any violence."

Crews coming into the restricted zone had to go through an orientation and receive passes for their trucks and personnel. They were issued tags to wear around their necks for access to the zone. Documentation also included an emergency declaration letter that allowed trucks to avoid weigh stations on the way down to the Gulf Coast area. Warlen said, "We were one of the first contractors to go into New Orleans, and we were escorted in by the National Guard. In one instance, our crew was working on the electric power around a causeway bridge, and there were two Blackhawk helicopters hovering over the area. We didn't know anything about the situation, but apparently the National Guard felt there was enough of a threat to stay that close."

UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY

Working in unfamiliar territory is a challenge at any time for storm restoration crews, but the complete and vast destruction from Katrina and Rita compounded that problem. Many roads were washed out and sign posts destroyed. To overcome this problem utilities assigned a person to accompany the contract crews. That person, sometimes called a bird dog or sub-boss, provided maps, helped with finding circuits, obtained materials, coordinated switching as required for work on the lines and provided inspections. "We typically work with what is called a sub-boss who would coordinate our permits and blocking for grounding," Riesen said. "We would go through the sub-boss whenever we were energizing laterals or feeders."

Dougherty reported, "We had company reps that helped us find the circuits. An excellent feature was that the reps were actually journeymen linemen, not meter readers or gas people. It was very helpful and was very well coordinated."

Webber said, "Entergy assigned a person to our crews. If we sent 10 or 20 people into an area, they would have a guide with them. He would stay with them and help with getting materials and help with switching."

LIVING ARRANGEMENTS

Arrangements for sleeping, meals and basic hygiene were mostly primitive at first. Utilities assigned a person or group to help with these matters, contracting when possible with caterers and hotels. But many hotels were either destroyed or completely booked up for miles around. Often the crews had to camp out, sometimes sleeping in or under their trucks. Many brought water and nonperishable food to sustain themselves for the first few days on the job. Crull from Henkels & McCoy said, "Most of the sleeping was in our trucks. There was nothing left standing, and the motels were all booked up. Some churches and community centers, on their own, did help feed us and give us a place to put a cot or a floor to sleep on inside a building. Mississippi Power did bring in some portable showers. It got better after the first week."

M.J. Electric's group slept in trucks at first and reported that after the first two days things improved, with Mississippi Power providing box meals. "The utility did very well under the conditions, the way they handled the water and ice and other liquids. That was important because each day the temperature was above 90[degrees]F and humid," Dougherty said.

PAR's Warlen said that the biggest challenge for a storm this size was lodging and feeding crews. "That is a major challenge when the whole city or even a major part of the state is evacuated. At first we slept in the trucks, then we moved to tents. And finally, as things improved somewhat, we found motels to double up in."

Whether or not crews were rotated into these difficult working conditions varied: Henkels & McCoy, PAR Electrical and Shaw Energy all kept their crews in place for both Katrina and Rita restoration work; a few employees were swapped out, but normally workers stayed until their projects were finished.

COMMUNICATIONS

Both Katrina and Rita took out most of the communications capability of the power companies, including cell phones and hard-wired phones. When they were on a job, all the contractors had their own radios for truck-to-truck communications, but the range was limited to 15 to 20 miles. PAR Electrical, for example, had satellite phones, which served them well until cell-phone service was partially restored. Warlen said, "We gave satellite phones to our superintendents to communicate with each other and with our office, and we had truck radios for communication among the crews. For the first few weeks that is what we used."

Shaw Energy's Spence said, "We usually had a utility representative close by. If there was an emergency, we would know exactly where to find someone. During the first week or so, communications were so bad we couldn't use the cell phones. Only after the first week and a half were we able to contact the utility reps by phone."

INTERACTION WITH CUSTOMERS

According to all reports, the interaction that crew members had with customers was positive and gratifying. Local people expressed their appreciation for the work linemen were doing to restore power. They acknowledged the long travel time many had to take to get to the work site and frequently shared what little they had in the way of food and water. Dougherty said, "We were down there to help them and they were coming out to help us. They brought out sweet tea and cooked hamburgers for the crew and even asked us to come to dinner."

Crull echoed this experience, saying, "A lot of the people were still in shock, had lost most everything, if not everything they owned or worked for, and yet they were worried about making sure we had water and food supplies to keep us going. They may not even have had that for themselves."

Riesen related an experience a crew member had with a particular family: "We had one crew member whose daughter had her first birthday while he was away on storm duty, and when he shared this personal experience with a customer whose little girl was standing nearby and heard about the birthday, she ran into the house, grabbed one of her teddy bears, brought it out and said, 'Here, you can give this to your daughter when you get home.' The next day the crew leader, truly touched by her generosity, was able to purchase a new bear, which he gave to the girl. He told her that he wanted her to have a memento from Pennsylvania, his home state."

SAFETY ON THE JOB

Storm work seems to bring with it a heightened sense of safety among the workers, brought on by the fact that what is normally dangerous work is made all the more so by the long workdays, hazardous conditions and pressure to get the power restored.

There were differences in safety and work practices among the contractors and utilities that had to be reconciled, such as grounding procedures and the use of rubber gloves and sleeves. However, all the work to restore power after Hurricane Katrina was done safely, with only minor scratches and bruises reported. For example, Mike Cardell, area manager, East Region, Henkels & McCoy, said, "Through both storms, the worst accident we experienced was a young apprentice who gaffed himself in the ankle."

Haag referred to the heightened awareness of safety by saying, "There is normally hypersensitivity to safety when doing storm work. The crews are working an incredible number of hours, under horrific living conditions and under enormous pressure to get the job done, but in the end it is incredible how much work gets done with so few accidents. Safety records are normally significantly better than in even the day-to-day, nonstorm work."

Bowen also commented on this, saying, "There is something about going to a storm that brings a heightened awareness of safety, because you never know what you are going to run into, whether it be downed power lines, trees or other electrical hazards."

Linemen had to be careful where they walked because of all the debris, such as nails and glass, according to Crull. "And there were snakes that we had to watch for that had been displaced."

"Our primary responsibility, other than getting power back on, is to make sure that everybody comes home safely," Dougherty said. "Mississippi Power was under a lot of pressure to get the power restored, but they never cut one corner. They always made sure breakers were open and locked out and the grounds were on. We pulled every cutout at the transformers in case there was some backfeed. We wore rubber gloves and sleeves."

GROUNDING DIFFERENCES

The contractors reported no significant differences in safety procedures, although grounding practices do vary among utilities in different parts of the country.

"The only issue that came up was grounding procedures. Entergy grounds differently than we do up north. At MYR Group, we use equipotential grounding and bonding," Fagan said. "Entergy grounds their sources at either end and also puts a set of box grounds on either side of where you are working, so that the worker is protected by two sets of grounds. If it is grounded and flagged, they do not wear rubber gloves. So their gloving procedures are different from what we follow in Pennsylvania. We basically followed the Entergy procedures when we were working on Katrina."

Shaw workers always work covered up and always use rubber gloves when they do storm work to give a little extra protection, according to Webber. "Grounding practices were no different than what we practice. We box ground the same as Entergy, although we call it bracket grounding."

Spence said, "Once we ground the lines, we are still required to wear gloves and sleeves, whereas with Entergy, if you use their grounding procedures, you do not have to wear gloves."

One difference in switching procedure was mentioned by Riesen. "We found only one difference in our safety practices. Entergy has a safety rule that any oil-switching device must be closed from the ground using a 40-ft hot stick. Our practice is to use a 17-ft stick out of a bucket."

HOME GENERATORS

Home generators, while a convenience for homeowners, are a potential hazard to linemen working on power lines because of the chance of backfeed from an unknown source of electricity. "We found there were a large number of home-owned generators and that became an issue," Riesen said. "We did not have any trouble, but heard of homeowners improperly hooking their generators to the system and energizing the primary of the transformers. We had to go out and open up all cutouts to isolate ourselves from these potential hazards."

Dougherty had a somewhat different experience, saying, "I found it surprising that the vast majority of people that hooked up a generator had gone out and shut off the main breakers. The people themselves were well informed."

COMPARISON TO OTHER STORMS

According to the contractors, what made Katrina different from other hurricanes was the extent of the devastation and the fact that there was not only wind and tree damage, but water damage as well, especially in New Orleans. The food, water and fuel shortages also stood out in their minds. "It was different because so many people were evacuated," Fagan said. "I've worked storms where there were people still around, even though there was a lot of wind and tree damage. Here, we had wind and tree damage, plus water damage, and there was nobody there. That made it different."

Commenting on the widespread destruction, Spence said, "What stands out in my mind, comparing this to other storm work, was knowing the situation that people were going to have to come back to. That was so much different from what the normal thunderstorm or other smaller storms might do. With those storms, you don't see blocks and blocks and blocks of houses flooded to the tops of the windows. It kind of gets to you, just knowing that these people will come back and find everything they own ruined. You really feel for them and their situation."

For Jones, the fact that the storm was so devastating and widespread was a compelling difference. He said, "You don't normally find a storm where there is absolutely no lodging and everything has to be brought in - food, water, fuel."

For Dougherty, it was the scale of the destruction that made a difference. He said, "We've been on hurricanes and tornadoes before, but within 30 miles of the area that is hit, there are still accommodations, and you can still get gas. Also, after Katrina, there was no fuel. We had to make arrangements to bring in tankers to fuel up the bucket trucks."

MOST CHALLENGING ASPECTS

Hurricane Katrina posed some unusual challenges for those linemen who were sent to the rescue: Some felt sadness or fright from the conditions; some pointed to the unfamiliar territory and the weather; others said it was the lack of supplies and the uncertainty of when they would become available. Maintaining safe working conditions was a challenge, as was providing adequate living arrangements.

"For me, it was getting over the shock of seeing such a devastated environment and seeing the impact of the storm on the people and their homes and businesses," Murphy said.

"In New Orleans, we saw places that had been destroyed and where people had stolen everything out of the stores," Spence said. "I didn't feel good about being in that area because of the conditions and not knowing how the people were going to react to our being there. We were afraid and not sure about our own safety."

For the Shaw Energy crews, how they had to maneuver to get to some tough jobs was most challenging. They did a lot of work off the main roads for which they used some heavier transmission equipment, such as a track hoe. Webber related one such job: "We had one crew work on a downed distribution line between two railroad tracks where we could not get a bucket truck in. The poles were all blown over for about eight or nine spans. We used the track hoe to lift and set the poles. Then the linemen climbed and framed the poles and got the wire strung up."

For Murphy, it was the environmental concerns of the terrain. He said, "We were cautioned not to work in any wet areas, but we were moved into a lot of areas that were just fresh from being under water. The smell was not good in a lot of places."

For Griffin, learning the area and getting familiar with the roads made getting to the jobs a challenge at times. "Also, you have to have good communications to ensure the safety of your people," he said. "Then there were the smaller challenges of mosquitoes, snakes and alligators, which were all part of the terrain."

Ellis pointed to the challenge of obtaining food and water and materials. "Lodging was the biggest challenge so that we could get the proper rest to keep on working. Also, because the weather in Pennsylvania is more temperate this time of year, our employees were not accustomed to working in high 90[degrees]F temperatures with high humidity at 7 a.m."

Haag also found obtaining supplies to be a challenge. "We did bring our own supplies; however, because there was so much destruction and so many crews needed so many things, there was often nothing to work with. So, our crews scavenged by going through downed lines to pick up every usable part," he said.

"The most challenging thing was safety while working on the refinery substation equipment," Liles said. "Going through extensive lockout, tagout and grounding each time we went to a new location was the most challenging part. We ran 30 people for five or six weeks, seven days a week, 10 hours a day with no lost time, no incidents, no first aids, no recordables, nothing. Outside of work, it was dealing with people who had lost everything. That was my biggest personal challenge. I had to make sure morale was high even though tensions were high."

Cardell's biggest challenge was dealing with tensions that can arise when people work and live together under difficult conditions. "One of the challenges is that you can get a lot of personality conflicts when you have men working and living together for such a long period of time. Sometimes we moved crew members to different places to get a different viewpoint and get away from people they were working with."

Another difficult challenge was getting the crews back home and back into their regular work again, according to Riesen. "What is difficult about getting back from storm duty is the scheduling with the utility that we work with back home, getting the equipment put back in the right place, and making sure the right trucks and crew members are in the right location."

MAKING A CONTRIBUTION

Linemen who come to the rescue by restoring power help people get on with their lives. They may have been away from home for a long time. They may have worked under dangerous conditions for many more hours at a time than they would have under normal working conditions. They may have roughed it when it came to the conditions under which they lived. But, they took pride in being there - in the aftermath of the hurricanes - to contribute to the restoration of devastated communities.

TEXAS MUTUAL ASSISTANCE CONFERENCE MEMBERS

AEP Asplundh Austin Energy CenterPoint Energy City Public Service Cleco Davey Tree Entergy Irby Construction L.E. Myers Mississippi Power Co. North Houston Pole Line Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. Pike Electric Quanta Services Inc. Texas-New Mexico Power Co. TXU Electric Delivery

CONTRIBUTORS

E-mail questions regarding the hurricane recovery effort to any of the contractors you read about in this article at tdworld@primediabusiness.com.

Henkels & McCoy Inc.

Mike Cardell, Area Manager, East Region, Media, Pennsylvania Ryan Crull, Area Manager, Central Region, Salem, Illinois Brian Ellis, Director of Power, East Region, Media, Pennsylvania Ron Jones, Director of Power Operations, Central Region, Salem, Illinois Dan Riesen, Supervisor, East Region, Media, Pennsylvania

InfraSource Transmission Services Co., Mesa, Arizona

Fred Haag, President

Dashiell Ltd., an InfraSource Company, Houston, Texas

Gordon Liles, Project Manager

M.J. Electric Inc., an InfraSource Company, Iron Mountain, Michigan

Mike Dougherty, Superintendent

MYR Group, Rolling Meadows, Illinois

Jim Bowen, Regional Manager, The L.E. Myers Co. Ron Fagan, Construction Manager, Harlan Electric Co.

Par Electrical Contractors Inc., Quanta Services, Kansas City, Missouri

Chris Griffin, Superintendent Tim Warlen, Regional Vice President

Shaw Energy Delivery Services, Shaw Group, Charlotte, South Carolina

Jim Murphy, Manager, Southern Region T&D Eddie Spence, Line Supervisor Mike Webber, Vice President, Southern Region T&D

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