2 linemen in post-Odette power restoration dead

odette restoration noreco II

At least two linemen lost their lives while trying to help restore power in the regions devastated by Typhoon Odette.

Negros Oriental II Electric Cooperative (NORECO II) employee Ronald Gallarde was part of the of the clearing and restoration team conducting operations in Tanjay City when he was electrocuted on Christmas Day. The 31-year old lineman opted to work despite the holidays to expedite power restoration in the province — one of those where Odette made landfall.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of our warrior of light,” NORECO II said in a statement. Gallarde is survived by his wife and three children.

A few days before that, Surigao Del Norte Electric Cooperative (SURNECO) lineman Al Abarico died during a clearing and retrieval operation of damaged and toppled distribution lines. 

“He was hit by a moving concrete pole and [his head fell] on a steel pole. He was declared dead on the spot, despite the efforts to revive his life,” SURNECO said in its own statement.

Abarico was a 38-year veteran of SURNECO.

Energy Usec. Felix William Fuentebella said in a news briefing on Monday that the Department of Energy (DOE), together with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (PHILRECA), are coordinating with the linesmen’s families.

NEA employees for their part, have initially raised Php50,000 as financial help for Gallarde’s and Abarico’s kins.

Over a thousand linemen from various power distributors across the country have been sent to help in the restoration efforts of the affected distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives.

Fuentebella added that aside from the DOE, NEA, and PHILRECA, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and the DUs are also accounting for their respective personnel deployed in the field.

“Extra careful nga po tayo ngayon dahil may [COVID-19] pa rin kahit na mababa yung incidents compared to other months sa ngayon. We are really stricter about it because in last year’s response, [maraming] linemen naman natin ang nag-COVID positive nung papauwi na,” he said.

Photo from NORECO II Facebook page.