Power to Puerto Rico: One Year Later
On September 20, 2017 – one year ago – Hurricane Maria struck the island of Puerto Rico, making its devastating mark on the lives of more than 3 million residents. The Category 4 storm created the largest power outage in U.S. history, and the world’s second-largest power outage on record.
As we acknowledge this solemn anniversary, we look back on the months that National Grid employees and support teams dedicated to restoring power – and hope – to the people of Puerto Rico.
We both visited Puerto Rico and saw firsthand the impact our 200 employees had on the restoration effort. We are proud that, despite the challenges, our employees chose to lead in this extraordinary effort, including:
- The 158-strong National Grid field force who volunteered to leave their homes and families, to travel thousands of miles to immerse themselves in our nearly six-month recovery effort, working seven-day work weeks and 16-hour workdays without a break, deploying for up to six weeks at a time – nearly 90,000 incident-free work hours at final tally;
- The 40-some employees who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to support our mission in so many ways. From coordinating barge transport of 29 National Grid trucks to Puerto Rico and assembling much-needed materials for airlift to the island, to managing medical requirements, legalities, language barriers, travel, and countless other details that allowed our ground team to focus on restoring service; and
- Our coworkers, family and friends back home who gave their boundless support.
But we did not stop there. Today, National Grid continues to find new ways to make vital, lasting differences for Puerto Rico and its people.
Our recent hosting of six juniors from University Gardens High School in San Juan is the beginning of what will be a sustained and valued partnership with Puerto Rico’s Department of Education. Progress still to come includes donating new computers, contributing to much-needed upgrades to the school’s STEM lab, support for its award-winning robotics program, and mentoring through our employee resource groups to help this year’s participants, as well as future students, return to complete the Engineering Pipeline Program.
As we reflect on what the people of Puerto Rico have endured over the past year – and as we continue our support in the Merrimack Valley communities served by Columbia Gas and stand ready to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence – we find encouragement from the strength, innovation and compassion that National Grid people demonstrate every day. As always, in the toughest of challenges, our employees serve as an example we all can follow.
President, National Grid New York
Chief Operating Officer, Electric