A five-man V.I. Water and Power Authority line crew are in Nassau, Bahamas, to help that country restore electrical service in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin, according to WAPA. The crew traveled to the hurricane-ravaged island in response to a request for assistance from the Bahamas Electricity Corporation.
Both BEC and WAPA are members of the Organization of Caribbean Electric Utilities. As members of CARILEC, as well as the organization’s Lineman Program, the two utilities are taking advantage of the mutual-aid program administered through CARILEC.
The mutual-aid program allows member utilities to request assistance through the organization when restoration efforts are required. In times of need, members of these organizations recognize the importance of prompt restoration and are ready and willing to assist in the efforts.
In a statement issued by the authority on Wednesday, WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said BEC general manager Kevin Basden contacted him through the CARILEC disaster restoration program, saying the country needed assistance to restore basic electricity service. Hodge is chairman of CARILEC.
“Basden indicated that the island’s electrical system received some damage from Hurricane Joaquin and his crews would need assistance to fully restore their system,” Hodge said.
"Our line personnel are always willing to participate in this type of program, for which WAPA has received similar assistance during past post-hurricane restoration efforts," he said.
Hodge said a category four hurricane can be devastating and the destruction to the electrical transmission and distribution system in the Bahamas may be widespread.
Hodge hailed the mutual aid program as a key element of support for power utilities up and down the Caribbean.
“It is reassuring to know that, in time of recovery and restoration, the various power companies, WAPA included, have a pool of resources across the Caribbean that can be tapped to restore electrical power in a more timely fashion," Hodge said.
Clinton Hedrington, WAPA’s director of transmission and distribution, said that while "the extent of damage to the island’s electrical system is still unknown, the linemen are prepared to do all they can to stabilize and restore the electrical service for the residents whose lives were already disrupted by the hurricane.”
The members of WAPA’s restoration team include Dwayne Carr, Luisito Frederick, Rey Belardo Jr., Mark Thomas and Eugene Estridge.