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August 30, 2011
Behind the Hurricane Headlines:
Cranford Substation Restoration
Once the water began to breach the Rahway River across the street from the Cranford Substation on Sunday, crews knew they were in for a long night. The station, which transforms voltage from a high of 26 KV to a low of 4000 volts, feeds local homes and business in Cranford. The rapidly rising river as a result of Hurricane Irene impacted a number substations surrounding Cranford including Somerville and Rahway.
The outdoor section of the Cranford substation, which houses electrical components such as transformers, circuit breakers and relays, was under four feet of water by Sunday evening. A crew of about 30 mechanics, substation relay techs and other employees sprang to action to maintain the integrity of the substations impacted by the river.
Crews at the Cranford station, which saw one of its worst floods since being built in the 1930s, had to wait until Monday morning for the waters to recede before it was safe to inspect the equipment. “The safety of our employees is our number one priority,” said Steve Daroci, central division substation supervisor. “Electricity and water are a very dangerous mix. High clearance vehicles had to be sent in first to assess if the waters had receded and we could reach our equipment safely.”
Employees, some of which had been at work since Saturday evening in anticipation of the storm, began the tedious task of clean up.
The raging river water brought mud, grass and debris to the site which was caked to all the equipment. Each piece had to be pressure washed to clean off debris. From there, employees began to disassemble all mechanical components to dry them with either hot air such as heater fans or compressed air. As the components are inspected, crews have to hand dry as well in order to ensure everything is completely dry and clean before testing can safely take place.
Employees, who are working 16 hour shifts around the clock to restore electricity to PSE&G customers, are not without their own worries. “I have a wife and two kids I haven’t seen in days that live in South Jersey,” said Daroci. “We have a commitment to our customers to keep the lights on. It’s hard work on many levels, but it has to be done.”
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