By Robert DeDeauxJanuary 27, 2018
CAYEY, Puerto Rico - Each day U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Task Force Power Restoration personnel, along with their contractors, are safely restoring power to non-residential areas so that Puerto Rican municipalities can provide better services to their communities.
After months of power restoration efforts on essential infrastructure in the mountainous area of Cayey, Puerto Rico small businesses began receiving power Jan. 25, 2018.
"It's very exciting!" said Juan Rosado smiling while raising his arms and quickly twisting his hands into the air.
Rosado owns and operates, a body parts and towing service in Cayey.
After getting power to critical locations and services, priority assignments are provided by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
"Without the power, business wasn't down, it was broken," explained Rosado.
Looking down, Juan explained further. He had several employees but after Hurricane Maria, business drastically slowed. He had to use a flashlight to search his supply room for parts.
Everything was just too difficult. He couldn't sustain his modest workforce. Three of them left for the U.S. mainland in order to get jobs and provide for their families.
USACE personnel understood of the economic impact to the community. "Depending on what type of small business you have, an owner would have to spend $500, maybe $700 a month on fuel and oil for their generators," said Kory Warrington, a quality assurance specialist working with Task Force Power Restoration.
Rosado's business was without power for about four months.
"One of the initial problems the work crews were facing was having to travel all the way; coasts to coast just to get the materials to here," explained Warrington. "The Corps remedied that by establishing closer staging areas."
USACE currently has 381 different material items on order to fulfill the supply requirement, including poles, cable, transformers, fuses, towers, and insulators. USACE and PREPA have distributed over 500,000 pieces of materials as of Jan. 16.
Warrington frequently partners with PREPA, Department of Energy and Industry personnel to the ensure power is facilitated safely and quickly. "Our ultimate goal is to get the power turned on," said Warrington assigned to the St. Paul district of USACE. "To accomplish the mission without everyone involved in this project wouldn't be possible."
After being here just a few weeks he has witnessed the public reaction to the success of the unified efforts. USACE Task Force Power Restoration, along with its partners, successfully restored power to over one million customers.
"The delight in their faces when the lights come on is the ultimate reward," said Warrington an 11-year electrical technician. "They have gone through a tragedy. It's why we are here to help,"