Distribution Supervisor Scotty Walker
was responsible for keeping the piping system in working order. He and his crew were
out in the elements as the largest total rainfall in U.S. history fell. Rain covered much
of the system’s underground piping in 100
vaults, trap boxes and manholes, posing a
challenge for TECO’s steam lines.
When a steam line is totally submerged, the steam inside condenses,
requiring the plant’s boilers to work harder
to maintain steam load. Plus, the hot pipe
can heat the rainwater, causing it to steam
and boil, in turn damaging insulation and
electrical systems in underground vaults.
With steam service vital to 16. 1 million
sq ft of customer space for space heating, dehumidification, humidification,
sterilization, kitchen, sanitary and process
research use, lowering rainwater levels
around the pipes was crucial.
“Being ready for anything is important, especially when facing such a catastrophic event as Harvey,” states Walker.
“We rented a dump truck in advance to
ensure we could navigate flooded areas
to get to our piping access points and
pump out water. And we knew exactly
where to head first. We were well-equipped
and wore rain gear, but under those
tough conditions, we still got soaking
wet. It was hard to stop and go to the
plant for dinner, but we knew we needed
to sustain our energy so we could keep
KEEPING CUSTOMERS IN THE LOOP
The Texas Medical Center and nearly
every member institution had their own
ride-out teams during Hurricane Harvey.
TECO regularly emailed updates to customer teams to assure them that chilled-water and steam services were stable and
All institutions remained operational
during the storm. No institutions flooded.
But that wasn’t just by chance.
“The reality is that Texas Medical
Center itself must be considered critical
caring for a sensitive patient population
and conducting an enormous wealth of
life science research. Plus, there’s even
more demand for our services during
emergency situations. That’s why we have
extensive flood mitigation plans in place.
Together with our member institutions,
we’ve invested more than $50 million in
flood prevention infrastructure.”
Ahead of Harvey, TMC activated those
plans and maintained close contact with
member institutions and large external
stakeholders. McKeon and TMC’s Chief
Operating Officer Shawn Cloonan met with
TECO management during the height of
Every ride-out team member had
his or her role. Phyllis Sousley, TECO’s
senior procurement and special programs coordinator, donned an apron and
became TECO’s head chef during Hurricane Harvey. She had helped prepare
the food plan and was equipped to put it
“My family owned and operated restaurants, so heading up TECO’s kitchen
comes pretty naturally,” says Sousley.
Four employees helped Sousley make
nearly 120 meals a day for 5-1/2 days.
“Everyone needs proper sustenance,”
she observes. “They all play an impor-
tant role in keeping the system run-
ning. They deserve a great meal and
a mental and physical break. We
thought our pantry was stocked to
hold us seven days, but they ate a lot,
and we had to make a grocery run to
see us through!”
Sousley and a colleague slept in a
room next to the kitchen, rising each
day at 4 a.m. to get breakfast under-
way. Those on kitchen duty found
themselves on their feet 15 to 17
hours each day, as one meal prep, ser-
vice and dining room cleanup rolled
into the next.
SUSTENANCE FOR THE RIDE-OUT TEAM
TECO’s Phyllis Sousley, Tim Reardon IV
and Zhanna Kogan were on its five-person
kitchen crew during Hurricane Harvey.
Courtesy TECO. Photo Bruce Bennett.
TECO’s Central Plant, back center, is located along Brays Bayou, which flooded during Hurricane
Harvey. The bayou is part of the Harris County Flood Control District. At one point during the
storm, 6. 8 inches of rain fell in just one hour.
Courtesy TECO. Photo Kari Spencer.