SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Over six months after Hurricane Maria struck the island of Puerto Rico causing unprecedented damage to the U.S. Territory and its power grid, restoration efforts continue.
Currently power has been restored to 94.17 percent of customers, but the focus remains on the less than six percent who still do not have power.
Quality assurance specialists play a key role in restoration.
Matt Sexton, Natural Resources Specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District is a power QA with Task Force Power Restoration at the resident office, Arecibo, PR.
Sexton monitors contractors repairing lines, observes their progress and produces reports, detailing the work to include time and materials.
"I am having an absolutely fantastic time, the Puerto Rican people are amazing and caring people and it's truly my honor to serve them. It's an eye opening and amazing experience," stated Sexton.
Another aspect of the QA job is to monitor safety of the work being performed and work with contractor leads to resolve any potential issues.
"A lot of the skills that I've gained in the park ranger training program have helped me here," stated Sexton. "My ability to observe and communicate with people are skills that have helped me to be more confident in interacting with the contractors and the people here in Puerto Rico."
USACE assigns QA personnel to all of their contract crews as a matter of facilitating continuity in reporting and quality assurance.
"This assignment offers some really unique challenges, but I came here to serve my country and the people of Puerto Rico, stated Cynthia Kitchens," Project Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District. "The people are so welcoming. I've had some meaningful jobs in my career, but the work we're doing here is the most meaningful that I've ever done. This is my first disaster relief, and I'll probably keep doing it for the rest of my career, I love it."
USACE continues to lead the federal portion of the power restoration effort.