Fires and Floods Highlight Work of CA Members as First Responders
While UWUA members continued their rebuilding efforts on hurricane devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, California was hit with wildfires and flashfloods. The growth in the severity of storms is shining a light on the role of utility workers as first responders.
When mudslides and fire recently ravaged parts of California, hundreds of UWUA members from Locals 132 and 483 mobilized. By shutting down, repairing, and restoring gas service, these first responders literally saved the lives and properties of hundreds of SoCalGas customers. Meanwhile, customer service representatives handled thousands of calls, effectively directing the public during the disasters that struck near Los Angeles.
Proud to be a Utility Worker
Over 400 Local 132 and Local 483 members were deployed to Montecito, CA after mudslides wiped out the town in early January. This disaster was a result of downpours hitting steep hillsides that were stripped of their vegetation from extreme wildfires.
Local 132 represents some 4,000 gasworkers in distribution and customer service, while Local 483 represents 350 members in storage and transmission.
“Watching it on the news did not fully capture the severity of the destruction. It was like something out of a movie,” says Local 132 President Javier A. Salas. “It made me very proud to join with and represent my members who willingly and unselfishly left their homes and their families with just a few hours notice to go help in the recovery from this disaster. So far they’ve done this without any accidents or incidents under extreme working conditions.”
Huge gas transmission lines were destroyed in the disaster and Local 483 members continue to work around the clock to restore service to the area.
We are there!
“Our guys were out there from the very first minute, locating the pipelines that ran right through the mudslide and making it safe for firemen and policemen,” says Local 483 President Robin Downs. “I’d like to make the public aware that we are first responders, we go in in every situation, under the most hazardous conditions. Fires, earthquakes, mudslides, we are there, on the scene making things safe for other first responders.”
“The work our members are doing here in the U.S. and around the Caribbean highlights the fact that we are first responders,” says UWUA President Mike Langford. “In each and every one of the natural or man-made disasters that have recently struck, our members are there, securing hard-hit areas safely, rebuilding infrastructure, and restoring services to the public.”