Lesson of Hurricane Sandy is: “Be Prepared” – Commentary
By Mr. Ralph Occhipinti, Adco Electrical’s Master Electrician and Safety Administrator
Against the backdrop of the upcoming third anniversary of Superstorm Sandy and the chaos it caused throughout the New York metro area it’s important to understand that while a storm of this magnitude may not be seen again for decades its impact will linger for generations. From devastated mass transit tunnels to co-ops that lost entire subbasements to flooding, Sandy taught New York a harsh lesson that needs to become part of our collective understanding of what it means to border the Atlantic.
Those of us who professionally respond to severe weather’s impact on our data and electrical networks know full well that no storm is identical to what preceded it. What we suffered through in Sandy won’t even remotely replicate the next hurricane or super storm. The same is true for ice storms, nor-easters and blizzards. Even small changes in pressure gradients will change the complexion, track and aftershocks of severe weather. What is a constant is how severe weather will stress and sometimes break our energy grid and will most surely challenge those who are tasked with repairing the system. How we respond to that call for help is why we study the impact of previous storms.
In the wake of Sandy’s 2012 landfall Adco was, among other responsibilities, subcontracted by Consolidated Edison to disconnect damaged residential and commercial buildings from the power grid so that the restoration process could be begin across Staten Island and Brooklyn. There is not one of us who reported for work will soon forget the devastation it caused to the infrastructure and the human misery that followed it.
The company’s response included the assignment of some 150 union electricians to help restore power to those parts of the city particularly hard hit. Adco corporate offices stayed open 24/7 to direct crews in the field and assumed a round-the-clock schedule to repair electrical damage found along the low lying areas if Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Adco also provided generators for critical business operations essential in returning New York City to a full functioning metropolis.
Among the many lessons learned from Sandy can be summed up by a simple instruction: pre-position. Adco recognized that unless we placed key personnel and equipment in certain strategic locations the storm’s wreckage, flooded highways and power outages would prevent us from responding to vulnerable locations in need of immediate repair. We employed that lesson in anticipation of recent Hurricane Joaquin that ultimately diverted east. Nevertheless, we placed key staff and warehoused supplies the weekend before the possible weather hit because Adco is ever mindful of Sandy.
Because our nation has become so dependent on thin copper wires and fragile fiber optics to keep our society intact Adco has become part of our region’s first line of defense in confronting the severe weather that would destroy those connections. We recognize that responsibility and prepare accordingly because three years after Sandy all New Yorkers know full well that Mother Nature has become far more fierce, more unpredictable and far more damaging to our 21st Century lives.
With nearly forty years of company growth in the New York metro area Adco Electrical works on behalf of Fortune 500 clients and sectors that range from the financial and legal communities to hospitals and universities. Adco is certified as a woman-owned business enterprise by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the City of New York.