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It takes a nation to restore a county grid, and one man to make sure a few of them vote

(Photo: Sara Scully)

By Sara Scully

Driving from New Hope, to Carversville, and through Solebury, it is easy to see the effort being made by PECO to restore power to residents in this area. The effort in some cases has happened so fast, that on my return trip from Giant yesterday around 6 pm, the very same road, Sugan near School Lane, that was open with downed lines and heavy trees, an hour later was blocked by crews, only to be reopened later that night. Over the past few days I have passed fleets of Asplundh tree trimming trucks trailed by vehicles from energy companies with names I did not recognize, license plates from all over the United States. Today as I hopped out of my car to snap a photo of a power company “thank you” sign, this man, Nabil Shoman, First Line Supervisor, Construction, Overhead, and Maintenance for Com Ed, a sister company of PECO, pulled over to greet me. He and his crew drove in from Chicago, Illinois, to help with the restoration effort.

“We thought it would take a few days to fix this mess,” Shoman told me, referring to North Main Street in New Hope which was without power until yesterday, due to several downed wires and trees, “But we got it done in a day and a half. Power was back on yesterday by sixteen hundred hours.” The crew was then dispatched to Phillips Mill and River Roads, in New Hope/Solebury.

When I met Shoman he was cruising through to make sure the North Main Street work was complete, and to report any additional clean up that needed to be done, such as disposing of the large pieces of tree trunk and now junked electrical wires, cut up and collected on the sidewalk by his crew during the restoration effort.

Shoman is just one of many workers who have come in from various states to help. They stay in local hotels, and work anywhere from six to ten hour days, according to Shoman. “At the end of the day we drive around an hour to our hotel, The Holiday Inn Express, sleep and come back out to work the next day.”

But while organizing his crew to get our power back on is Shoman’s main objective, nurturing his workers, and taking care of their basic needs, as people and citizens, is the most important aspect of running an efficient ship. “I need to make sure they are fed well, every night we pick a restaurant.” The company also made sure that absentee ballots were made available to workers who wanted to vote while away from home. “I will be collecting and mailing the crew’s ballots,” Shoman said.

Shoman’s crew are all union workers. He is non-union, being in a management position. According to Shoman,”That is just how it works in our Chicago company.”

The crew has been here for nearly four days, and Shoman said he suspected they might be dispatched to help in New Jersey soon.

When I asked if he and his crew were aware that they were working in an historic area with many wonderful attractions, Shoman replied, “There is no time to see or do anything. We work, eat and return to our hotel.”

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • Shoman is the man.
    After 6 days without power, and very little comfort or hope from PECO,
    Shoman appeared on our road.
    I threw myself in front of his truck in a moment of frustration.
    He was kind and reassuring.
    Over the next 5 hours, he stopped by the house many times to update us.
    When the power on our road was restored, Shoman was parked right outside our door to make sure our house was lit.
    Shoman mentioned to me that he is originally from Belize. Sometimes it takes more than a nation — a world even — to restore a small country grid.

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