Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability

DOE Emergency Responders Active in Power Restoration Efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

September 27, 2017

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Emergency responders at the Department of Energy (DOE) have joined with FEMA and the federal community, the governments of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and industry partners in response and power restoration efforts from Hurricane Maria.


One of DOE’s responders on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands is Ron Alexander, an Emergency Support Function 12 - Energy volunteer from DOE’s Bonneville Power Administration. He deployed in response to Hurricane Irma and joined in the subsequent response to Maria. But ‘response’ doesn’t really capture the hard work or long hours for all those involved, so here’s a look at Ron’s schedule for a recent day:

0600 Drive to VITEMA (the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency)

0630 Meet at bunker for Federal huddle.  Grab radio.

0700 Report to personnel at VITEMA, including Fusion center.

0730 Drive and meet VIWAPA (Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority) water executive to collect numbers for storage and needs for power to pumps. 

0800 Meet ops manager at Seven Seas Water Plant to collect data on power usage for needs assessment. Wanting to put in 2.4 MW generator.

0830 Drive to meet DOE crews to assure they have what they need for the day and share tactical information.

0930 Drive to assess laydown yards for DOE equipment

1030 Drive to and check birthing ship stats for DOE employees.  Find safe parking for bucket trucks and tools.  Meet FEMA rep on ship.

1130 Site visit with Sgt. Stinson (a fellow responder).  Evaluate the electrical issues.  Ran their technician through a viable option to get their generator working and supply power to their pumps, despite the destruction from storm.  They accepted and started working on it when we left.  Reported complete at 1800 this evening.

1300 Go to the generation station and see the status of unit 14 and feeder 5 supplying power to the airport.

1400 Walked the power line to see where the fault is on the line.

1440 Got back to VITEMA to jump on the conference call for ESF12

1500 All island fuel vendor meeting at VITEMA with Coast Guard, FEMA and Fusion Director.

1600 Federal meeting to solution the fuel issue with FEMA staff

1645 Federal huddle at VITEMA

1730 Drive to and get stats of feeders and generation from VIWAPA

1830 Record logs.  See the port stats for incoming equipment

1900 Drive to airport and check on FEMA generators, take inventory of what is left.

1920 Type this report

1945 Meet with Air Force to sort out communications needs for DOE since my internet and phone is continuously troublesome.

2030 Drive to check on DOE WAPA crews and see if they have any needs from the day

2130 Back at hotel.

The next morning, Ron and his fellow responders got up and went back to the hard work of response and power restoration. Together, they’re – we’re – doing all we can do to aid the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Ron spoke for us all in a previous note, “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now and I am glad you asked me to help.”


For more information about DOE’s response and restoration efforts, please go here. And for more about the Western Area Power Administration's restoration efforts in the Virgin Islands, please go here.

Crews Work on St. Thomas' Electrical Backbone
Crews Work on St. Thomas's Electrical Backbone | Photo courtesy of Will Schnyer