There is some inspiring news in Louisiana and the Deep South which has been pounded by Hurricane Laura: an army of electricity grid workers is in the region and will be working 16-hour days non-stop until electricity is restored.
They will be restoring air conditioning and light – and saving many lives.
Reliable electricity is essential to modern living. Without it, for example, the elderly and the sick may not be able to find or get medicines. Medicines that need to be refrigerated spoil. Many more accidents happen at home and elsewhere when there is no electricity. For starters, busy areas no longer have traffic lights. Getting power back to hospitals and nursing home facilities is especially critical.
More than 13,000 workers from 27 states are helping with restoration efforts in Louisiana and Texas, according to Mara Hartmann, spokeswoman for Entergy, a major electricity provider to the region. FirstEnergy Corp. utilities, for example, has sent more than 525 line workers, forestry crews and support personnel to Beaumont, Texas.
Restoring electricity is always dangerous work. “Our hardworking line workers put their lives on the line every day to ensure our nation has the power it needs to keep moving forward,” says International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “It’s never easy, but they know that the job needs to be done.”
The Utility Workers Union of America also represents those involved in restoration work and the daily, dangerous work to keep the electric grid up and running. Independent contractors play a significant role as well.
The rapid, re-deployment of grid workers to regions with critical needs has been a decades-long practice of the power generating industry. The Edison Electric Institute has a well-established Mutual Assistance program. Both investor owned and public power companies have established programs and partnerships so that resources get to where they need to be when disaster strikes.
In early August 2020, when the New York metropolitan region was hit hard by Tropical Storm Isaias, more than 1,000 workers from public power companies as far away as Florida, Texas and Wisconsin came to help restore power to the region.
Keep in mind that the workers on the ground also had to drive to the disaster area with their trucks and equipment, a trip of often 15 hours or more. They will be away for home for long periods, often in modest accommodations, including tents.
Their work is often not noticed, but it is as important as that of other first-responders. Amid all the cynicism and division gripping America today, we should all salute their hard work and dedication.
About the Author: Paul Steidler is a Senior Fellow with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.
Find Archived Articles: