Local hydro workers aid U.S. effort 0
Two hydro workers from Haliburton County travelled down to Washington to help with relief efforts.
Passing by the White House and the Lincoln monument gave a new perspective on a very different work week for three Hydro One workers from Haliburton County.
By the time this story is published Hydro One linemen Dan Steele, 26, of Minden, Shawn Silver, 27, of Minden and Gerry Guyton, 50, of Wilberforce will have returned home.
They were part of a 208-person Hydro One contingent that assisted in restoring power to an estimated three million residents, following a windstorm on the east coast. Without power, many residents were without air conditioning and susceptible to heat related illnesses. With 16-hour days, the trio worked constantly and didn’t have time for sightseeing.
Steele, an employee for seven years, felt appreciated when he was there.
“We get a lot of thank yous and a lot of people surprised we came all the way from Canada to help them out. There’s lots of gratitude towards us,” he said from his mobile phone just outside Washington, D.C. “We tell them where we are from. How far up we are.”
He said his co-workers travelled by road, taking a bucket truck and a half-tonne truck. On Monday, July 2 at 5 a.m., they joined up with the Fenelon Falls Hydro One workers and drove in a five-vehicle convoy to the U.S. which took 18 hours.
Steele said the operation was organized with a staging area that included equipment, food and drinks. All they had to do was focus on their work.
He helped with downed trees and the installation of lines, he said, and by Wednesday of last week there were close to 50,000 residents left without power. Heat was a factor, as the temperature broke 40 degrees Celsius.
His wife, he said, was happy for him to help, but sad she wouldn’t see him for a week.
This wasn’t his first experience helping in the U.S. as he went to Vermont in 2010 after a winter storm.
Although there were downed trees, broken poles and power lines, the damage wasn’t as bad as Vermont where water damage swept houses away, he said.
These three were chosen by seniority on who has the least overtime hours for the month. The opportunity is optional for employees.
The entire Hydro One contingent was divided into three groups and worked with local utility companies in Baltimore, Virginia and Washington.
Guyton, who was split from his Haliburton County co-workers, has gone to Florida and Ohio in his 25-year career with Hydro One. He appreciates the experience to not only help, but to learn about how things are done elsewhere and how other people live.
Hydro One has a standing agreement with North American utility companies to provide assistance. It helped Vermont in 2010 after the winter storm; Ohio in 2008 with the result of Hurricane Ike and Florida in 2004 and 2005 after hurricanes.
Their boss, Tim Killingbeck, customer operations manager with Hydro One, couldn’t speak more highly of the workers.
“I’ve been down on many [U.S. assistance trips] myself. I think it is a great thing for those guys to go down and help out. Fantastic. They get to see the world and see new spots, new people,” he said.