The last few months have been trying times for IBEW members on the front lines of disaster.
Hurricanes Florence and Michael on the East Coast and Hurricane Lane in Hawaii tested our linemen, groundmen and tree trimmers. In California and British Columbia, another devastating wildfire season demanded the most of our members there. In Massachusetts, IBEW gas workers were among the first on the scene of a series of home explosions that rocked an entire community.
I've said it before, but it bears repeating as we approach the end of another year. The IBEW is not just a job. It's bigger than a simple paycheck, important as that may be. IBEW members serve our communities, often on the front lines.
Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians get a lot of credit — and they should — but it's easy to forget about the electrical professionals making sure lines are de-energized so it's safe for them to do their jobs or working round-the-clock to get those hospitals and power plants back online.
2018 has seen 15 tropical storms, eight hurricanes, two of them major, that have done nearly $29 billion of damage in the U.S. Our disaster response crews have been working nearly nonstop this hurricane season. As you'll read in this month's issue, some of the members of Pensacola, Fla., Local 1055 who were rebuilding their homes on the Florida Panhandle after Hurricane Michael had just returned from storm duty in the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence. When bad weather looms or disaster strikes, our members head toward the problem.
And believe me, for the families who've had to live for days or weeks without power, there's no one they'd rather see than an IBEW line crew.
After the 9/11 attacks more than 17 years ago, members of our New York locals also went toward the danger. I'll never forget the letters "IBEW" scrawled on the Last Column, the final piece of steel removed from Ground Zero that now resides inside the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Brother Kevin Flynn, one of the hundreds of Local 3 members who worked that site in the aftermath of the attacks, left those letters there to memorialize the 21 IBEW lives lost that day from Locals 3 and 1212. Our members showed up while the wreckage was still smoking to make sure rescue teams had light to work around the clock, and they stayed there for months.
A day doesn't go by without IBEW sisters and brothers giving back, whether it's serving on the front lines of disaster, rebuilding after one or simply donating money or items to the displaced. We're a critical part of the communities we live in, and I couldn't be more proud of each and every one of you for the work you do.