Natural (And Unnatural) Disasters

December 23, 2003
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
As contractors know, weather plays a major role in this business. The forces of Mother Nature can be a boon or a problem for the industry, but they aren't the only source of trouble. Contractors in New York, Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario experienced the results of a man-made disaster this summer. Within three minutes, starting at 4:10 p.m. on August 14, 21 power plants in the United States inexplicably shut down, leaving some 50 million North Americans without power and forcing thousands of businesses to abruptly close down operations. When the sun set, darkness stretched from Detroit to the East Coast. The "Great Blackout of 2003" covered much of Ontario, Michigan, northern Ohio, and extended all the way east to New York City.

A search for answers as to what happened, and, more importantly, what can be done to strengthen the reliability of our electric system to prevent such an event from recurring was immediately set in motion. With over 6 million residents out of power for up to two days and hundreds of businesses shut down, some for several days, officials in Michigan elected to commence an investigation to examine the blackout from their vantage point.

This air conditioning unit was completely submerged in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, which damaged property from Maryland to North Carolina before proceeding inland as a tropical storm.
Without power to operate appliances and air conditioners, contractors and suppliers throughout the "Erie Loop" (geographic areas served by utilities that are linked together in the loop around Lake Erie) struggled with an onslaught of emergency calls related to the blackout, typically from power surges or losses.

Not that Mother Nature was calm and cool in 2003. CMP Corp., a manufacturer of compressor replacement parts, suffered damage to its corporate offices and facilities during a tornado that ripped through Oklahoma City on May 8. On September 19, Hurricane Isabel demolished property in North Carolina, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Between warranty and insurance work, there were a lot of equipment replacements. Debbie Risher, owner of Belair Engineering and Service Co Inc., Upper Marlboro, Md., had one word for the experience: "Wow!"

A crew member from a Maryland propane company shuts down leaking propane tanks that had been tossed off their pads during the storm. The tank on the left was still leaking when this photo was taken. (Photos courtesy of Robin Boyd.)
She continued, "We prepared, we duct taped the windows, sand bagged the bays and front foyer windows, purchased a generator and waited, but never did I think a Category 2 hurricane would do the damage it did to our area hundreds of miles away."

Meanwhile, southern California experienced raging wildfires in October, burning more than 650 homes and killing more than 20 people. The state's deadliest blazes in more than a decade raged through areas as far north as Simi Valley in Ventura County, east to San Bernardino County, and south to San Diego County - scorching more than 300,000 acres. President Bush declared Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties major disaster areas, opening the way for federal dollars for governments, businesses, and people affected by the fires.

In the end, the fires destroyed more than 1,000 homes and left tens of thousands in houses without electricity.

Publication date: 12/29/2003

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

Recent Articles by Mark Skaer

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

2014 Energy Efficiency Forum

Highlights from the 25th annual Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington, D.C.

Podcasts

NEWSMakers: Mark Satterfield

Mark Satterfield, founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing Inc. and author of “The One Week Marketing Plan” talks about his book and the importance of HVAC blogging. Posted on Sept. 19.

More Podcasts

ACHRNEWS

NEWS 09-15-14 cover

2014 September 15

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Venting R-22

The NEWS reported that a man received prison time for venting R-22. Should EPA step up enforcement?
View Results Poll Archive

HVACR INDUSTRY STORE

plumbing-hvac.gif
2014 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research

 

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

DON'T MISS A THING

Magazine image
 
Register today for complete access to ACHRNews.com. Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.

STAY CONNECTED

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con