Update on Puerto Rico: Second Wave Checks In
As the second wave of National Grid’s mutual assistance to Puerto Rico ends its four-week deployment – and a third wave takes its place – Incident Commander Tom Gozelski shares a few photos, and some feelings, about the experience.
What has been your biggest challenge in Puerto Rico?
I would say the total devastation, never having worked in an area that has been out of electric service for over four months, with this level of damage. Having the locals, the customers, be so excited to see us pull in – actually cheering our crews as we pull in and out of the job site every day. Usually when we come into a village or when we’re in certain areas, people will come out of their houses and say “please don’t leave.” The first thing we always have to do is reassure them that we are there until the work is done.
What surprised you most?
What surprised me most is the people, how humbling, how giving and supportive the communities have been toward us while we’re working out here in Puerto Rico.
What are you most proud of?
Working for National Grid. Being a part of this team down here right now. Not only the National Grid team but the entire utility organization that’s come down here, whether it’s the crew you’re on, the division you’re from, working with ConEd, being represented by NYPA— all the way up the chain of being a utility worker in this type of environment.
Is there anything you would like your coworkers back at National Grid to know about this experience?
Honestly, words cannot describe the experience down here. All of the lineworkers will say the same thing. Everyone is relaying the information back home, but the words cannot honestly describe what’s going on down here. It’s amazing.
Do you think this experience will change you when you return – and if so, how?
It absolutely provides a whole new or different perspective on how important we are to the people that can’t do this work and who rely on this work to be done.
Was there anything you wish you had brought with you to Puerto Rico?
Honestly, no. I can’t think of anything that we didn’t already have. We brought the experience and we brought the talent, and that was really what was the most necessary down here.
Once their power is fully restored, what would you wish most for the people of Puerto Rico?
To somehow have the same level of service that we’re providing to them now.
What will you tell your kids about this experience?
Never take anything for granted. You never know when things you rely on most are going to be gone, and you need to be prepared for things like that.
So you’d recommend a career in this industry to young people?
Incident Commander Tom Gozelski describes these recent photos of National Grid’s second wave of mutual assistance in Puerto Rico.
In this New York Power Authority video, National Grid Incident Commander Tom Gozelski shows how rapidly – and safely – crews are working to replace entire systems from the ground up.
Members of a newly re-energized San Jose church thank the crew with a feast.
See the first article on National Grid mutual assistance for Puerto Rico here.