WESTERN NEW YORK – Utility workers have to expect the unexpected, and that means working holidays when duty calls.
In the case of Puerto Rico's power crisis, National Grid workers are helping out, and for those headed to the island or those already there, they'll be missing holidays with their families this year.
"Mutual aid...it's kind of the hallmark of what utilities do all across the country. This is certainly a little bit of a special situation,” said Steve Brady, a spokesperson for National Grid.
Brady describes the logistics of helping restore power to Puerto Rico as uniquely challenging, but the fact that the company is helping out is not unusual. National Grid workers recently returned after helping in aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
The four upstate employees already in Puerto Rico there celebrated a makeshift Thanksgiving on Thursday.
Another 40 or more lineworkers and supervisors will be deployed early next week. They’ll be there for at least six weeks.
"Not only over Thanksgiving for those that are already there, but likely they will be there through Christmas, the larger contingent, perhaps even into the new year,” Brady said.
Of the 40 upstate workers leaving next week, about half are Western New Yorkers, all whom are making the commitment to miss Christmas at home.
Brady says they understand it's part of the job.
"As I understand it from the management team, the supervisors who pulled the team together, it didn't take a lot of arm twisting. There were folks who fairly quickly volunteered,” he said.
Equipment is currently on barges heading down the Atlantic coast. The hope is that the equipment arrives around the same time National Grid workers arrive next week.