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PWD, LMH bands together during power outage

19 Feb 2016 | Story by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Last week, Ocotillo and Fairway Heights residents experienced an extended power outage. Multiple installation and local entities joined forces and worked diligently to restore power and accommodate Combat Center residents in their time of need.

Ocotillo was the first housing area to be affected by the outage and upon investigation of its substation, Public Works Division discovered damage to a portion of its breaker. The cause of this initial damage is still under investigation. In following standard operating procedures, some power was then drawn from the Fairway Heights substation to supply Ocotillo. This then resulted in the failure of that substation as well.

“This was one of those outlier situations that are difficult to plan for,” said Lt. Cmdr. James Stewart, public works officer, PWD. “We are looking at what future projects are necessary to improve the robustness of our utility systems to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of electricity, water and gas.”

During the power outage, the tireless efforts of PWD, a department of G-4 Installations and Logistics, and civilian contractors served a critical role in ensuring electricity was restored as quickly as possible.

“The original power outage occurred on Feb. 4 in the Ocotillo Heights housing area,” Stewart said. “It took two bucket trucks, a crane and a service cable service truck, combined with outside contractors and a PWD team of approximately 25 high-voltage linemen, electricians, testing technicians, safety technicians and electrical engineers to get the power back on. It was truly a team effort.”

Lincoln Military Housing, in conjunction with Marine Corps Community Services, joined in the efforts by providing residents with interim accommodations. The Ocotillo Club house remained open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, providing residents with subsidized meals, ice, Wi-Fi, movies, and video games.

“Lincoln Military Housing went above and beyond for the residents of both Ocotillo and Fairway Heights during the six-days that we were without power,” said Bree Salas, resident, Ocotillo Heights. “They sent email updates twice a day, offered ice and coolers, made meals available, opened their office for extended hours, and tried to make events to keep the kids busy in the dark hours of the evening.”

Additionally, as service members often do, many Combat Center residents opened their homes to those who were affected.

“This event highlighted the community spirit of the Combat Center,” said Col. Jay Wylie, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4 Installations and Logistics. “As several unaffected residents offered support for those [without power].”

In addition to the services provided throughout the week, there were two Town Halls held to keep Ocotillo and Fairway Heights residents informed. Furthermore, according to Wylie, those affected by the power outage will not receive utility billing for the month of February.

“PWD, as part of G-4 Installations and Logistics, works continuously to maintain and improve infrastructure aboard the installation to keep the Combat Center a rewarding and satisfying place to live,” Wylie said. “Our service members and their families are the cornerstone of this installation and we are constantly refining the many ways we can serve them.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms