San Diego Linemen Aid Tsunami Victims
July/August 2005 IBEW Journal
While millions of Americans viewed images of last December’s tsunami with horror and contributed funds to relief efforts, Darrell Hall and Chris Simmons, members of San Diego Local 465, felt the need to get more personally involved.
Hall solicited donations of tools and equipment from his employer, San Diego Gas and Electric, needed to restore power in a population center struck by the giant waves. He then worked with Local 465 Business Manager John Hunter to secure contributions of vacation days from his co-workers to enable him to travel to Phuket, Thailand, to help restore power.
Channel 10 News (KGTV San Diego, California) gave Hall a satellite phone for live coverage and the connection to "Rescue Task Force," a non-profit volunteer group.
Arriving in Thailand after a 22-hour flight, Hall went to work amid massive destruction and the stench of death.
With journeyman lineman Chris Simmons, who took a week off to help him, Hall established a help network on the island. Working 19-hour days, they were able to restore power to an apartment building, a school and a Buddhist temple that held the bodies of 4,500 victims of the disaster.
Hall’s self-imposed tour of duty took its toll. He landed in the hospital with dehydration. But after a day and half of intravenous feeding, he was back to work on the power rescue effort.
The Thai locals called Darrell "Superman." IBEW Local 465’s John Hunter agrees. "Hall and Simmons really made a difference," he says.