By Preston ChasteenFebruary 1, 2018
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Task Force Power Restoration, held a change of command on Feb. 1, 2018. Col. Jason A. Kirk assumed command of the Task Force from Col. John P. Lloyd.
Col. Kirk currently serves as the Jacksonville District Commander which encompasses Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"Restoring power to the people of Puerto Rico remains the number one priority for USACE," said Col. Kirk. "We still have over 400,000 customers without power and we will continue this partnered effort until the mission is complete."
Col. Kirk led the Jacksonville District team as they prepared for and responded to Hurricane Irma, which struck Florida 10 days before Maria hit Puerto Rico. Col. Kirk led Operation Florida Strong which drew USACE staff across the nation to help with recovery efforts in the state. Following Irma, USACE installed more than 13,000 temporary roofs in Florida and conduct assessments of nearly 1,000 critical facilities that were impacted.
Col. Lloyd led the Task Force for over 4 months, from the beginning of the FEMA grid power restoration assignment in October 2017, to restore power to the people of Puerto Rico.
"This has been one of the toughest challenges of my entire military career," said Col. Lloyd. "I'm honored to say we were able to restore power to over 1,000,000 customers in a joint effort with our partners."
Col. Lloyd returns to his assignment as commander of the USACE Pittsburgh District.
USACE currently has 3,834 personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico, including 3,605 contractors from Fluor and PowerSecure, working directly on distribution and transmission lines.
USACE has been tasked with ordering materials to make up for the shortage of power restoration supplies across Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria, USACE received a materials list from PREPA with estimated material requirements based on initial damage assessments. USACE works through the Defense Logistics Agency to procure material from manufacturers.
In direct support of recovery efforts, USACE has received 26,114 poles and 2,102 miles of conductor wire to date.