By Jim Dresbach July 6, 2012
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (July 6, 2012) -- Electrical repair crews from distant states and one Canadian province began rolling through Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Hatfield and Wright Gates July 2 to assist utility Dominion Virginia Power's efforts to restore regional power following the June 29 mega-storm.
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, or JBM-HH, converted parking areas into a staging area for Dominion and visiting electrical personnel to assemble and plan a mode of attack to tackle blacked-out areas.
"Dominion is doing the heavy lifting; we're just providing the asphalt and a place where they can centrally locate," said Col. Carl R. Coffman, JBM-HH commander. "What this is really all about is getting our neighbors' power back on."
The birth of the staging area was the result of a strong and healthy partnership between JBM-HH and Dominion. The JBM-HH/Dominion bond paid big dividends for the Virginia utility company and the surrounding community when the region was blitzed by the late June thunderstorms. Dominion Area Manager Marty Travis knocked on JBM-HH's door with a request and JBM-HH willingly obliged.
"When we had the power outage in northern Virginia after this last storm, Marty approached us and said that they needed a place to stage some linemen and some bucket trucks and vehicles which was centrally located to Northern Virginia and Maryland, so they can branch out really quickly and have quick access to customers and get their power back on," Coffman explained. "We're all about cooperating. We wanted to be a part of the solution, so we cleared a couple of parking lots and did a mission analysis and found there was no impact on the cemetery and no impact on funerals and our day-to-day mission here."
By nightfall on July 2, activity in JBM-HH parking lots included electrical crew arrivals from as far away as Florida and Illinois and linemen arriving back to JBM-HH after a double-digit hour shifts throughout Arlington County neighborhoods. The Hydro-Quebec trucks, many decorated with Canadian flags, traveled 12 hours to reach JBM-HH, and midwestern crews from Edwardsville, Ill., split the trip into two days and rolled into suburban Washington, D.C., at the end of the evening rush hour.
Sixty-eight Canadian units were ready to assist the area in regaining electrical power, and the workers crossed McNair Road to obtain work orders inside Spates Community Club soon after their arrival.
"They [the crews] will get their orders from here and they will [go out with] someone from Dominion," said Dominion spokesman Dan Donovan. "The [repair crews] work just during daylight. At night, we have crews going out to the sites, identifying sites and coming back to the office to prioritize. They put together a package for each site with instructions on what utility poles, equipment and wiring are needed."
As for when the repair crews will break camp and go home, Dominion's Travis had a to-the-point answer.
"When all the lights are on," Travis said.