Commentary: Post-hurricane electrical restoration

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Chris Famous is a Member of Parliament of the Government of Bermuda. Raised in several Caribbean islands. He has a keen interest in the development and unity of the entire Caribbean region. He can be reached via email: [email protected] or via WhatsApp 441-599-0901.

By Christopher Famous

“Cow never know the use of its tail till it’s gone” ~ An old Caribbean saying, speaking of how people take things for granted until they no longer have them.

The passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria have left nearly four million persons in various Caribbean islands without daily supplies of everyday items, such as, but not limited to sources of income, steady running water and electricity.

Without steady running water routine tasks such as cooking, taking showers and flushing toilets become extremely challenging.

Without a steady supply of electricity routine tasks such as operating an office, running a hotel, providing AC in 80-plus degree heat and refrigerating foods are impossible to carry out.

In the island of Puerto Rico, it is expected that they will not have the majority of their electricity restored for almost six months. This means people dependant on keeping their insulin refrigerated will have to either rely on finding somewhere with refrigeration or in worse case scenarios evacuate the island to ensure they keep their diabetes in check.

As a sister island to those affected by recent natural disaster, Bermuda has a moral responsibility to assist in many ways. As such, the Royal Bermuda Regiment (RBR) sent troops to the Turks and Caicos Islands to help rebuild structures and the Bermuda Police Service (BPS) sent six officers to the British Virgin Islands to help maintain peace and order.

With roughly 20,000 residents and an economy that is primarily based on tourism, the lack of electricity has rendered the BVI nearly crippled. Restoring power to the islands is a critical priority.

Last week, the Bermuda Electric Light Company (Belco) sent six linesmen to the British Virgin Islands to help restore their electrical grid.

Led by veteran foreman Chad Brimmer these linesmen work in conjunction with linesmen from other Caribbean regions such as Aruba, Belize, BVI, St Lucia and St Vincent.

Daily they assemble as one group to pray together for safety then go off to their respective areas to commence their tasks.

Given that the BVI is a very mountainous group of islands, bucket trucks cannot access all the poles that need to be fitted with cross arms and transformers. As such, the linesmen often have to don safety belts and spikes on their boots to allow them to scale the 50-ft wooden poles.

On several BVI related Facebook pages residents of BVI have noted that they had seen Belco linesmen working throughout the island. Some even noting their friendliness and willingness to answer technical questions.

Essentially they are not only serving as tradesmen but as ambassadors for Bermuda.

I have yet to meet anyone who is happy to receive a utility bill. Yet at the same time I have yet to meet anyone who wants to go a day without electricity. If you are; drinking a cool drink reading this online or sitting in air conditioning, please take a moment to think about all utility workers worldwide climbing 50-ft poles to bring you electricity.

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