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’Unbelievable Support’ From Industry for Irene Cleanup

Fri October 07, 2011 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

On Aug. 28, Hurricane Irene battered the East Coast and caused the largest electricity outage in more than 25 years. Following the storm, utility companies and contractors were dispatched to begin the challenging task of cleaning up and restoring power to local businesses and homes.

Responsible for at least 40 fatalities as it traveled from the Caribbean through New England, the natural disaster caused an estimated $7 billion in damages, according to Bloomberg.

Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P), a Hartford-based utility company that serves 1.2 million customers in 149 cities, said employees, contractors and distributors worked through the Labor Day weekend to clean up after the powerful storm.

Al Mascaro, a CL&P transportation manager who oversees the company’s fleet of about 450 aerial equipment vehicles, said work crews from 22 states and Canada converged to deal with fallen trees and downed power lines as they reenergized more than 700,000 customers.

“Everybody pulled together, right down to our suppliers,” Mascaro said. “We restored on average 100,000 customers per day for nine days. There was unbelievable support in our industry.”

The United Illuminating Co. (UI), a New Haven, Conn.-based utility company with 325,000 customers in 17 towns across Southern Connecticut, announced on Sept. 6 that power to the 158,000 utility users impacted by Irene had been restored.

Rich Mento, UI fleet manager, coordinated the efforts of the hundreds of work crews that were sent with Terex telescoping utility trucks, material handling aerial devices and digger derricks to survey damage and turn the power back on.

“We had more tree damage with Irene than in previous storms,” Mento said. “We’ve experienced no aerial equipment failure with the Terex brands. The equipment held up extremely well. I’m thrilled with the performance of the crews.”

James A. Kiley Co., a distributor of Terex Utilities equipment based in Somerville, Mass., supplies both CL&P and UI with Terex aerial devices. Vice President Jimmy Kiley said that Irene was the worst storm he had seen since Hurricane Bob hit in 1991.

“This is probably the most customers that I’ve seen affected by a hurricane,” Kiley said of Irene. “We provided extended hours of support during the storm and hand delivered parts to keep fleets up and running.”

Mascaro said that CL&P’s fleet, of which more than one-third is made up of Terex HR50 aerial trucks, experienced few hiccups during the nine-day event, and quick access to parts and mechanics allowed the utility company to keep its vehicles running smoothly.

“We didn’t have any piece of equipment go down for more than 12 hours,” Mascaro said of CL&P’s fleet. “Once the storm came in, it was just a matter or working the plan.”

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