Updated 08/28/2012 08:29 PM
After the Storm: One Year Later National Grid recovery efforts
For National Grid, the recovery from Hurricane Irene is still underway, one year after the storm slammed into New York. As our Lori Chung reports, getting back to normal may still be a long way off.
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COBLESKILL, N.Y. -- "One year later. Seems like it was just yesterday," said Jeff Vandeusen, National Grid Overhead Line Supervisor.
But the time that's past since Hurricane Irene left her devastating stamp on the region is finally starting to mean much less for National Grid crews to do.
Vandeusen said, "We were getting daily requests for reconnect or disconnect orders, but now, it's slowed down to, it's weekly or varying levels"
With homes and buildings still being rehabbed or demolished, the storm marks an unprecedented restoration job for the utility. More than 156,000 homes and businesses were left without power.
At the National Grid facility in Cobleskill, Vandeusen says the task of rebuilding literally hit home.
"There’s a lot of emotions attached to something like this, these people are not only friends, but there's also a lot of relatives," said Vandeusen.
More than 3,000 workers helped the utility respond to devastation like it had never seen. The Amsterdam substation damaged beyond repair, nearly 400 utility poles to replace and the gas pipeline on Lock 9 at the Mohawk River destroyed.
"It was really three events in a week’s time," National Grid Spokesman Patrick Stella said. "Every time we thought we had restoration done for Irene, another thing came along on the back of it."
Irene was followed by the tornado that ripped through Amsterdam and then Tropical Storm Lee. Stella says the onslaught of disasters has actually revealed how National Grid can respond better in future events.
Stella said, "I think communication was a big deal for us, looking at how we can improve our communications with the emergency personnel, the towns that were affected.”
National Grid says so far, the restoration has cost over $50 million and with work ongoing to replace that substation and more work on its infrastructure, that figure is likely to grow.
Vandeusen says he and his crew spearheaded an effort to publish a book detailing National Grid's response efforts to Hurricane called "Schoharie County, Stronger Than Irene." He says so far, they've sold 4,500 books, which has raised about $56,000 for flood victims in Schoharie.