Will the storm hit? Life during and after Super Hurricane Sandy


Published 2 hours ago

Proposed by Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG)

Originally posted on PSEG ENERGIZE!

Just before Hurricane Sandy hit the state of New Jersey, I remember getting a call from my wife Valerie. “Will this storm hit us?” she asked, nervous and 6 months pregnant with our twin sons.

“Yes, in the middle of the state,” I replied. At the time, I was the Metropolitan Division Planner and was responsible for all circuits in the division, including circuit design and circuit load management. Although we received a warning about five days before Sandy’s arrival, we could not have predicted the extreme damage that would result from the storm.

It was the start of a journey that involved 15 consecutive 16-hour night shifts. The first night shift is always the hardest. Sometimes you’re up for 30 hours. Your body has to adjust to being up at night and sleeping during the day. It didn’t help that when I got home there was no electricity.

Like many others, the electricity to my house went out right after Sandy knocked, and it was out for almost two weeks. Luckily my wife was able to stay with her aunt who had only lost power for two days. I was glad my wife was able to go to a place that was familiar, safe, and had electricity for all her pregnancy needs. As for me, after my shift, I would go home and use candles for light. The only thing we had for heating was hot water, so I took a shower to warm up, then curled up in three blankets to sleep until my next shift.

This pattern continued for the next 15 days as we worked to restore our clients. My primary responsibility was to investigate breakdowns and create Squad Aid Packs that contained maps and damage information at specific locations. Many roads were flooded and petrol was hard to find, with long queues at all petrol stations. In the end, I had to take a hotel room because the construction site was almost 90 minutes from my home.

Force in service with road infrastructure image

Hard work, lots of coffee and teamwork got me through this storm. It was only in mid-November that I resumed normal hours. It was such an intense time. It was only 15 days, but it felt like months.

My house regained power the second week of November. Unfortunately, just after we restored the power, there was a huge snowstorm, a northeasterly, which knocked out the power again.

To top it all off, just as things were starting to get back to normal – around Thanksgiving – my wife went into premature labor at just 33 weeks pregnant. There was another snow storm that morning, so it took me nearly three hours to get to the hospital. The boys, Sean and Bryan, were almost seven weeks premature and had to spend 15 days in the NICU. Fifteen seems to have been our number in 2012.

I am grateful to have worked for PSE&G for 21 years, starting as an intern right out of college at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. I always feel like my bosses are watching over my career and my family. When my sons were born, PSE&G supported me enormously. Along with the twins, my wife was in the hospital after the birth of our sons because there were complications. I was allowed to work from home for a few days, that was long before working from home was even considered. It is difficult to work a normal day of more than eight hours and to have time to go to the hospital. Fortunately, the boys are doing very well now and they are even learning to ride a bike.

two children

Today I work storms as operations support. It’s amazing how many different people you meet, and the camaraderie at the end of shifts is great. You’re there for 16 hours every day, working to restore the client’s power. These late shifts through a storm sometimes feel like we’re going through a war together. Riding through storms is like a badge of honor. But we do it because ultimately we want to help customers.

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Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG)

Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG)

Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PSEG) (NYSE: PEG) is a publicly traded diversified energy company with approximately 13,000 employees. Based in Newark, NJ, PSEG’s principal operating subsidiaries are: Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G), PSEG Power and PSEG Long Island. PSEG is a Fortune 500 company included in the S&P 500 Index and has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America for 11 consecutive years (https://corporate.pseg.com/).

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