After two weeks of working 18-hour days in sweltering southern heat to rebuild electric systems destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, a team of NSTAR line workers, mechanics and supervisors has returned home to Massachusetts. The 20 NSTAR employees, who stepped forward in the days immediately following the storm, were deployed to both southern Alabama, and Gulfport, Mississippi, to restore power to areas suffering some of the epic storm's worst devastation.
"I don't think I saw a home or a building that hadn't been affected," said NSTAR supervisor Tim McGonagle. "People's homes, all of the things they owned, were wiped out. It was just incredible."
McGonagle says throughout their tour, he and his fellow workers were overwhelmed by the enduring southern hospitality of hurricane victims. Crews were continuously greeted with offers of food and water from the very people they'd been sent to help. "We were all struck by the fact that people who had lost so much still found reasons to be grateful and ways to offer whatever they could to us and to each other."
The NSTAR crews spent their days laboring with fellow line workers from the southern-based electric companies whose systems were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Their duties ranged from erecting new poles, to installing electrical equipment and wires. For many members of the team, this was their third trip south in a year, having traveled last fall to Florida and Alabama to repair damage caused by the back-to-back hurricanes that hit those areas.
"I'm very proud of NSTAR's long tradition of pitching in and lending a hand wherever help is needed," said NSTAR Chairman, President, and CEO Thomas J. May. "All of us who have seen the extreme suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina are grateful to these NSTAR workers for volunteering to bring some relief to that region."
The returning crews, who include some of NSTAR's most senior line workers, will now rejoin their colleagues in preparing Massachusetts for a brush later this week with tropical storm Ophelia.