Caterpillar rental dealers across the East Coast and from as far away as Minnesota and Texas delivered several hundred emergency generators to areas affected by electric power outages caused by Hurricane Isabel in September.
During and after the storm, portable diesel generators helped the areas significantly, providing emergency power to hospitals, schools, water and wastewater treatment plants, factories, offices and homes. East Coast dealers exhausted their own fleets and relied on inventories at other Cat dealerships that are part of the Cat® Rental Power network.
“Hurricane Isabel demonstrated to electric power users the importance of planning for natural disasters, especially in storm-prone areas," said Jeff Hedrick, power systems rental manager with Carter Machinery—the Cat Rental Store in Richmond, Va. Together, Carter and Alban Engine Power Systems of Elkridge, Md., delivered some 325 generators, ranging from 30 kW to 2 MW, to areas in Isabel's path.
Isabel struck North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. on September 18, leaving homes and buildings destroyed or damaged, huge trees uprooted, communities flooded, and an estimated 3.3 million customers without power.
As the storm approached, Carter, Alban and other East Coast dealers asked about equipment availability within the Cat Rental Power network. Neighboring dealers checked their inventories and made plans to move equipment. More distant dealers sent lists of their available generators and ancillary equipment to dealers in the storm's track. The East Coast dealers took shipments from other dealers, then delivered, installed and operated the equipment for customers.
The Cat dealers coordinated complicated schedules for pick up and delivery with trucking companies to ensure timely shipments. Generators typically were shipped from the East Coast dealers within 24 to 48 hours.
“The delivery of emergency power was a logistical challenge of marshalling equipment through the network and getting it installed on time,” said John Stubbs, rental manager with Alban Engine Power Systems. “The customers who fared best were those who planned ahead and received equipment before the storm hit. Many who waited until they lost power either found no equipment available or could not receive equipment because weather and road conditions prevented it.”
Dealers drew heavily on their staffs to meet the demand and get customers in service. Twelve- to 14-hour workdays were common for personnel handling customer and dealer communications, service technicians checking out equipment, coordinators directing shipments, and field personnel helping with installations.
In addition to Alban and Carter, there were several East Coast dealers involved in the storm response, including Gregory Poole Power Systems in Raleigh, N.C. Multiple network dealers provided significant support, including Ohio CAT in Broadview Heights, Ohio, Whayne Power Systems of Louisville, Ky., and Thompson Power of Memphis, Tenn. For more information, visit www.caterpillar.com.