There’s nothing like reality to put the holidays into perspective. Last month, I reported on the ComEd crews who left for New York to lend a hand after Superstorm Sandy. This particular convoy of manpower and equipment was sure to be appreciated. It included guys who knew exactly how to handle flooded vaults and get them back online. You couldn’t help but feel proud that Chicago could send such specialized help. Despite weeks away from their families, the crews looked proud to go and eager to help. They more than likely provided a happier holiday season for many people in New York. Below is part of an email I recently received from one of the guys. I am sharing it with his permission.
I am happy to report that all of us are returning safely and I only had a couple altercations with rats. Actually, there may have been a third but there was debate among us as to whether or not the animal was a rat or a racoon. From a slight distance, they both looked the same. The roaches were tollerable although there was one time when we opened up a vault cover and a couple of our “tough” guys went yelping like little school girls because of the 3-4 inch monster swimming around.
When we arrived, the people of New York greeted us warmly and it was quite impressive to be a part of a 15 vehicle convoy with our emergency lights on and police stopping traffic for us. Some of the other utilities actually commented on it as well. As far as the work went, it was somewhat similar to what we do here in Chicago but we adapted well to any changes. It was amazing to see the damage done to buildings and other areas though. The southern end of Manhattan was hit hard as was the Coney Islandarea of Brooklyn. I don’t really have good pictures as we were working the night shift and my camera is sub-par at best. We helped restore as much power as possible but the problem was more that the customers were not ready for service. For instance, we were sent to restore a service to one building and when we arrived and inspected the building, the electrical room still had water dripping from the equipment.
Brooklyn was a different story. We didn’t see as many customers not ready for service but what really struck me was the aftermath in the streets. On Thursday morning, I was working about six blocks away from the water and I noticed that there seemed to have been some cobblestone brick work being done because there was sand wiped over it. When the job was complete, we started driving down the street and I noticed the sand didn’t stop and it dawned on me that the sand wasn’t there for the bricks, it was washed over from the beach. That prompted me to take a ride over to Coney Island to check the damage and also because I never saw Coney Island and I thought it would be cool to see. It was. The damage was surprising though. Coney Island is lined with two streets on either side of the main part of the park. On one street were mounds of sand about four to five feet high. As I stood on the boardwalk I was really amazed to think that God could so easily rush the ocean onto land and line the streets half a mile away with sand. It really reminds one of their place on this Earth that’s for sure.