Hurricane Irma was a devastating storm with sustained winds of 74 mph that reached Florida Keys on the evening of Sept. 10, according to the National Weather Service. Irma pushed into Central Florida dumping heavy rain with strong winds and crippling more than 3.3 million customers across the state, power failures sprawled by the hour, per the New York Times’ report the following day. As the hurricane dissipated, I read in the Washington Post that Florida’s residents emerged to streets littered with debris, downed trees and nearly 2/3 of the state was left without electricity. The impact to people’s livelihood was massive.
This is where I come in. I saw the heart-breaking disaster first-hand. I am the regional operations manager for the Novinium southeast territory. Our group comprises electrical professionals who work directly with our customer, a local utility. We were assigned as ‘first responders’ by them when the hurricane hit, which left much of the region without power. We were in charge of responding to and investigating any downed wires as well as any ‘out of service’ calls. We were there to turn the power back on wherever and whenever possible.
The local utility did a great job organizing the tickets and minimizing the overlap of crew assignments. I was particularly proud of my team and how hard they worked during the crisis. They worked over 90 hours per week and took care of over 500 tickets without incident. Safety IS our number-one priority. Our team met every morning at 6 a.m. to review our safety procedures during this time of damage control. We were relentlessly committed to restoring power and some level of normalcy for the impacted communities.
Personally, the best part of the entire process was interacting with the people, the residents. When our trucks would pull up in a neighborhood, people would stream out of their homes asking us to please restore power. They were so appreciative and kind even when it took some time to get the power up and running. I’m incredibly humbled to be part of the first responder team.
Our Novinium team, as can be seen here in the photo, specializes in underground electrical cable rejuvenation. We work with power utilities to address underground electrical cable issues. Our goal is to work with our customer to ensure against outages that might occur during any future storm and help remedy any damage that might have incurred during this past storm. Our Novinium team came away even more committed to enable a safer and more reliable future for the neighborhoods of Florida and the people the utility serves.