By Robert DeDeauxFebruary 13, 2018
PONCE, Puerto Rico - The Task Force Power Restoration Port of Ponce lay down yard is full of steel poles, wooden poles, concrete poles, wire spools, insulators, transformers, nuts, bolts, brackets that just arrived and various other materials staged and ready for distribution within 24-48 hours of arrival to complete the power restoration in Puerto Rico.
Although new to U.S. Army Corps of Engineer power restoration mission, volunteer 1st Lt. Carlos Fabre along with the TF Power Restoration Bill of Materials, or BOM Squad, inventories thousands of pieces of material in Ponce, Puerto Rico in preparation for distribution.
"I'm here to help my people and that's why I volunteered to join the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," said Fabre, a Puerto Rico Army National Guard Logistics Officer. "I wanted to join the BOM Squad because I believe my experience as a logistics officer could help the team."
"We are buying a lot of materials in support of the restoration mission in Puerto Rico," said Fabre, Commander of the 1234rd Transportation Company. "After the BOM Squad inventories the material I have to make sure the right quantity of materials are transported to the right places."
In addition to transportation, the BOM Squad acquires, distributes and accounts for all materials and supplies, in support the power restoration mission.
"I've been here only a few days but I'm motivated and I understand the importance of the work needing to be done," He said holding his inventory sheets. "The Corps has accomplished so much but it's good to bring in a new set of eyes."
The BOM Squad has managed the materials since the beginning of restoration process. Their efforts ensured 75.35% percent of approximately 1.47M customers are able to have electric services restored.
"Being here during the hurricane gives me more motivation to do this job right every day. I still know a lot of people without power. I know their struggles because I share it with them. We still have people who have to go get fuel for the generators. Some people have family members that depend on machines to live. This gives me the strength to move forward and look for ways to improve the process," recounted Fabre, a Yauco Municipality native. "If I fail at this mission, I'm failing Puerto Rico, my people."
Fabre along with his wife and daughter were in their home in Yauco when the hurricane struck the island. He and his family saw USACE arrive.
"When we saw the Corps, we saw light at the end of the tunnel," said Fabre "We knew the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was going to help us rebuild."
The BOM Squad consists of 35 members and most do not speak Spanish. Some local contractors do not speak fluent English.
"Someone who lived through the storm on the island and speaks the language is a great addition to any team here," said David Mullen, a BOM Squad Transportation Specialist. "It can give you fresh perspective."
"There are no problems right now. I've only been here two weeks now. But in the long term if I see anything I can improve upon I will definitely address it," said Fabre reassuringly.
"The BOM Squad crew past and present build on lessons learned," said Mullen, a volunteer from the Nashville District. "It's a difficult mission but we all chose to come because we care. It's why I enjoy working with him."
Approximately 7,206 poles and 765 miles of conductor wire are slated to arrive in the next two weeks. USACE has received 29,396 poles and 2,556 miles of conductor wire to date.
In the little time I've been here, I'm seeing news every day that more people are getting power. I'm proud to now be a part of this mission. I would encourage anyone who is willing and able to volunteer," concluded Fabre.