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The Public Works Department South Potomac, Indian Head (PWDSPIH), Team led base recovery efforts at Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Maryland, after a severe thunderstorm moved through the Southern Maryland area, causing trees to fall and massive power outages on base July 29.
The severe thunderstorm damaged six transformer banks, knocked down 15 power poles, and destroyed an additional 15 pole cross-arms, causing outages to secondary utilities, like internet and phone service. The storm also managed to knock down over one hundred adult trees, affecting all electrical distribution feeders and subsystems on the poles and facility roofs, while also making roads inaccessible.
“When the storm hit, we knew it was an all-hands-on-deck situation,” said Link Rodriguez, utilities & energy management branch supervisor at PWDSPIH. “We all understood how important it was to work quickly in coordination to clear the roads and restore power to our supported commanders. Fortunately, we have in-house crews in the public works department who are equipped and trained to do this work.”
Within minutes after the storm, Richard “Dickie” Cutlip, transportation branch head at PWDSPIH, and the Utilities and Energy Management (UEM) control room team started calling for emergency mobilization.
The high voltage, line crew, and diesel generation shop team was mobilized within 30 minutes after the storm, and secured all the medium voltage on base. The team then initiated an assessment of the damages, starting with downed tree and debris removal, including a massive oak tree that was lying across the road and blocking the main entrance of the base.
Within 24 hours, most of the roads were accessible and clear from the main electrical feeders. Refueling of all emergency generators and equipment was maintained throughout the recovery. All sewage lift stations without power were supported, avoiding overflows and notice of violation with Maryland Department of the Environment.
The facilities shop conducted multiple repairs to roofs, supported the transportation department during the cleanup, provided support to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and fire alarm systems as the electrical power was being restored to the buildings. The facilities shop also supported the UEM team in restoring waterworks functions.
The waterworks team maintained the waste water treatment plant and collection system functions. Steam, compressed air shop and operations corrected all the steam ruptures. The stationary boiler operators quickly recovered lost power during and after the storm.
The high voltage, line crew, and diesel generation shop had all hands on deck throughout the recovery.
“Our Production Division is a team of true superheroes who respond to calls, no matter the time or day, and tackle every challenge until the battle is won,” said James Thompson, deputy public works officer at PWDSPIH. “Following the storm, the team worked tirelessly to restore the installation to normal operations. As a result, we can continue to execute the critical mission to support our nation. If you're uncertain about miracles, our PWD Indian Head team will prove to you that they exist!”
The high voltage, line crew, and diesel generation shop is one of the few Navy shops with in-house workers and equipment capabilities for such events. They provided support to all emergency facility generators on base, and engaged the main diesel generators as soon as the first feeder was clear. They work extended hours to provide electrical services to Naval Surface Warfare Center’s mission energetics efforts and the rest of the commands at NSF Indian Head.
The public works team was recognized by Capt. Eric Correll, commanding officer, Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division, Capt. David Wilson, commanding officer, Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP), Capt. Omarr Tobias, commanding officer, NAVFAC Washington, and Cmdr. Tate Metlen, public works officer, NSASP, and James Thompson, deputy public works officer, NSASP, in the base gymnasium August 18.
Recognized teammates included Jose “Link” Rodriguez, Shawn Butler, Jinsoo Chang, David Mudd, Ronnie Raines, Rick Turner, Bradley Ross, John Cobb, Steve Penkert, Brett Blankenship, Brandon Mills, Jack Ritchie, Bradley Milstead, Patrick Crosby, Billy Thompson, Thomas Leonard, Thomas Bahneman, and Greg Gomez.
NAVFAC is the Systems Command that delivers and maintains quality, sustainable facilities, acquires and manages capabilities for the Navy's expeditionary combat forces, provides contingency engineering response, and enables energy security and environmental stewardship. NAVFAC Washington directly supports Joint Task Force National Capital Region and its partnership with all local, state, and federal agencies in the region.