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Home > News > Restoration is the Visible Part of Disaster Recovery but Supporting the Restorers is What Makes it Possible

Restoration is the Visible Part of Disaster Recovery but Supporting the Restorers is What Makes it Possible

Last Updated on July 8, 2021

It’s a familiar scene after a natural disaster, dedicated crews from around the country converge on the site and begin the massive clean-up effort. That part of the job is known in the industry as “restoration,” where damaged buildings and infrastructure are dried out, repaired, and returned to pre-disaster functioning.

But, restoration is only part of the story because those crews need specialized equipment to do their job and that’s where companies like Garrett McKenzie Environmental Group’s Mitigation Division make their contribution. They supply the huge trailer-mounted desiccant dehumidifiers, mobile HVAC systems, fans, lights, and the portable power generation and distribution hardware needed to run them all.

“Obviously, we support our own Restoration Division,” explained Mitigation Division president, Will Hughes, “but we also serve independent contractors all over the country. What differentiates us from a standard rental company is the fact that we support them with industry-specific expertise and place experienced personnel on-site to set up and monitor the equipment they rent from us. We strive to be active partners with our customers, not just hardware suppliers.”

2020 proved to be an interesting year for Garrett McKenzie’s Mitigation Division. They were heavily involved in the aftermath of hurricanes Laura, Sally and Zeta plus major flooding in Chicago in April and in Michigan after a dam burst in May and the Iowa derecho in August.

One thing all of those disasters had in common was the need for portable power, not only generators but all of the distribution hardware needed to deliver the power safely and efficiently to the end-use location. That includes everything from power distribution panels, transformers, and spider boxes to the cables needed to connect them — and in 2020 it was all needed in unprecedented quantity in a very short period of time.

“We’ve been a Trystar customer for a long time,” Hughes said. “I like the ease of use and especially the durability of their equipment. You can tell just by looking at it that it will take a beating and keep on working.

“That’s not to say we abuse our equipment, we don’t. But things tend to happen on a job site and Trystar products don’t break into a million pieces if they are dropped or knocked around. The products are dependable and so is the company.”

Three hurricanes and a derecho over a few months in the summer of 2020 proved the value of Garrett McKenzie’s longstanding relationship with Trystar.

“We had crews working in Lake Charles, Louisiana, cleaning up after Hurricane Laura, and in Iowa cleaning up after the derecho,” Hughes explained. “Then Sally hit the Florida panhandle and southern Alabama and finally Delta hit just 14 miles east of Lake Charles. The Laura clean-up crew had to evacuate and then return to literally redo everything they had been working on.

“Needless to say, we needed a lot of cable, power distribution panels, transformers, spider boxes, and everything else required to support the clean-up crews and we needed all of it in a hurry. Fortunately, Trystar had a lot of the equipment in stock, but not everything. I’m not sure exactly how they did it, but we didn’t have to wait more than a week for anything we needed. They got the job done.”

While all of the was happening, Chicago experienced a freak flood that submerged four sub-levels of a major office tower from floor to ceiling. Those sub-levels contained most of the building’s HVAC and mechanical infrastructure as well as Consolidated Edison substations that fed power to several other buildings in the area.

Garrett McKenzie supplied equipment to support the prime restoration contractor on the job including a distribution system to provide 12,000 amps of 480-volt power for the building. More than 80 percent of the cable used was supplied by Trystar.

The job required that all of the equipment had to be located inside the building, which meant that the portable dehumidification and HVAC systems had to be dismantled and reassembled inside, on the job site. This was all accomplished while Garrett McKenzie was providing similar support to contractors restoring flooded parking garages in five nearby buildings.

Then in May, a dam burst in Central Michigan, flooding a large area including a local college athletic field. Garrett McKenzie supported the contractor tasked with restoring the football field.

“That was an interesting project,” Hughes said. “The surface was Astroturf mixed with rubber and it was floating over a sand bed 6 inches deep. We helped the contractor remove the water so the surface settled back onto the sand and then dried the whole thing so it was usable again.

“One thing all of those jobs have in common is the use of Trystar cable and portable power distribution products to support the restoration efforts. If you need to power an office building or plugin a thousand fans you can depend on Trystar to get the power where you need it.”

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