Thank you for holding the line!

Posted by Jeff Quick on October 18, 2016

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When the floods come and the storms rage...thank goodness for the folks that hold the line.

The warnings went out all week before Hurricane Matthew hit last weekend that we should be prepared for what might happen. We live in Fayetteville NC (less than half a mile from the Cape Fear River) and we knew that we might be in Matthew’s path. So we watched the weather reports closely. Most weather models showed the storm turning east just before hitting NC. We expected some rain but not much more. We stocked up on some essentials and waited. And last Saturday it rained. A lot. But it wasn’t too crazy. Bursts of heavy rain and bursts of wind gusts. But for the most part, just a steady rain. Our family had settled in and we were doing our normal Saturday activities. I had football games to watch since I couldn’t do much outside and the kids were doing what they normally do with a phone in their hands. My wife was probably cleaning up the mess I made in the kitchen (apparently I still struggle with getting all the food put away once I get it out of the refrigerator).

And then the power went out right at the 3:30 PM kickoff. What incredible timing! Geez! Now the kids were forced to figure out life without a cell phone. Oh well, we figured with all the warnings that something was bound to happen. So we scurried around and made sure we had candles and other sources of light arranged for when it got dark and then we hung out. We even played some games together as a family (which we don’t do very often when we have power). Later, I went outside to check out the creek in our backyard with my 11 year-old son, Forsby. It seems liked all the runoff water from the neighborhood was heading towards our backyard. So we built some makeshift water diverters to get everything heading towards the creek. And soon after that Forsby was skim-boarding across the backyard lawn.

We found out that night that our small candles weren’t very effective sources of light but at least they gave us a general idea of what was in the area. I wondered to myself how our ancestors could ever read by candlelight. A great sense of gratitude overwhelmed me for the modern convenience of electricity we enjoy today. And I must admit, I even began to think that I might be a little too spoiled by the convenience of it all.

Since we didn’t have any power, we decided to open the windows to enjoy the breeze (and occasional wind gusts) since we had no AC. The sounds of the rain and wind were calming as I drifted off to sleep. When we woke up we didn’t see many signs of extensive damage in our immediate area surrounding our home. Tree limbs strewn here and there across the yard but not a lot of standing water. We wanted to explore. So we hopped in the car and headed out.

We barely got out of the neighborhood when we realized things were more serious than we ever imagined. Just a few hundred yards from our neighborhood entrance water was too high for us to get through on the road. Houses near the road were dealing with 3-4 feet of standing water. We turned around and went the other way.

We crossed several small bridges with raging waters running furiously just underneath the bottom of the bridge. And then we encountered another standing pool of water too deep to pass. We noticed that large trees were on their sides. Root systems and all. And several were right on top of power lines.

We turned around again and on the way back we noticed that some of the small bridges and overpasses were now starting to erode. The kids were super nervous and scared. Heck, I was even scared as it started to sink in just how crazy the damage might be. So we headed home.

And while heading home we saw a line of utility service trucks and support vehicles heading towards harm’s way to get power restored. It was an amazing sight. Despite the incredible destruction and damage from the flooding, our local utility company had mobilized and were responding with great efficiency to the problems in the area. And there were a lot of problems to deal with in our area.

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Two days later the power was back on! We could turn off the obnoxiously loud generator and get back to normal. And then it started to sink in just how much work it took to make that happen. And as we ventured out again we began to realize that we were just fortunate and that much more work remained. Mother Nature is an amazing force to be reckoned with and when flooding is left in the wake of a storm it is debilitating. But yet again, everywhere we went we saw lines of utility service trucks and other emergency response vehicles heading towards the areas in need. It was reassuring to know that they would be out there patching thing up. Holding the line so that we can have power. Good stuff.

It just so happens that my company, Cohesive Solutions, does work in the utility space. We are system integrators for IBM Maximo. Maximo is an Enterprise Asset Management (and Work Management) system that helps utility companies manage their physical assets and process work in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. So, while we aren’t on the front lines, it is awesome to be associated with such great women and men and great utility companies across the United States that hold the line for us.

As the Director of Change Management and Marketing at Cohesive Solutions, I have had the privilege of interacting first-hand with line crews. They are a fun bunch that love to cut up and have fun but who are also very down-to-earth and really capture the essence of the heart of the great utility organizations we have the privilege of serving. And when it is time to respond, the line crews always step up and get it done. Without the folks on the line we have no power.

So, please join me in thanking the great people that hold the line for us. When you see an opportunity to serve those that serve us so willingly, please take the opportunity to do so. Gratitude is a powerful force that creates great synergy and collaboration. Thanks again to the great women and men who hold the line for us!

Topics: Utilities, Disaster Relief, Emergency Response

Written by Jeff Quick

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