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Helping a local community to recover from a natural disaster that destroyed a town and surrounding area

On May 27, 2019 – the US Memorial Day holiday – the town of Dayton, Ohio was hit by what was estimated to be the second largest storm damage event in over 100 years. 15 tornados, the worst of which was half a mile wide, caused widespread devastation in and around the town.

Gary Madden manages our contract to provide 24/7 fleet maintenance support across 24 counties in Southwestern Ohio, for the Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) utility company. On that day, Gary and his family woke up just in time to take shelter in a closet as a tornado destroyed part of his home. Many neighbours, friends and family were similarly affected.

Unlike hurricanes, which can be forecast, tornados do not allow for prior preparation. In many cases this can create major challenges for recovery efforts. When a utility company experiences a natural disaster in their support area, calls go out to neighbouring utilities for immediate assistance.

More than 1,600 utility crews from all around the region rapidly began arriving in Dayton to help restore power. There was little time for DP&L to prepare and they turned to Gary to help manage the massive escalation of support requirements. Gary and his team led the coordination of all visiting utility crews, providing a robust and resilient support network at the heart of the recovery operation.

For Gary and his team, this was a 10-day, 24/7 support marathon. Their tasks included: providing on-site fuelling for crew vehicles; providing 24/7 roadside support for utility vehicle damage and maintenance; ensuring rapid wrecker responses and repairs to support units that suffered storm damage; and leveraging vendor relationships through continuous phone calls to secure critical resources as quickly as possible.

At the same time, our DP&L workforce resolved countless operational issues by answering 100s of calls, day and night, while many of their own family homes were damaged and without electricity or water. Their successful effort to restore power to their hometown was not overlooked, receiving many expressions of gratitude from their local community.