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Posted on Jan 7, 2019

Quincy man works for a time in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria may have throttled Puerto Rico, but to hear Marcus Westra tell it, the island is slowly getting back up.
Westra, assistant critical facility manager with Quincy-based Schneider Electric, traveled to the island this fall, about 13 months after the hurricane, to work on data centers located there.

Quincy’s Marcus Westra enjoying the sights of “The Island of Enchantment,” Puerto Rico, where he traveled to work at a data center.
Submitted photo

“The company I work for helps operate a data center so I just went down there to help operate a data center, just like we run them here in Quincy,” said Westra, who says he is fluent in Spanish. Puerto Rico has two official languages, English and Spanish.
“There’s still some damage in places, but I think everybody’s house has electricity and everybody seems to be going on with life,” he said.
The hurricane affected the electricity sources at the data center he worked at, with the restoration of power taking two months in the aftermath of the hurricane.
“Everything’s up and running now,” he said. “They have been running probably for 10 months or so.”
Some street lights are still not running, though, he said.
“It was a pretty big storm, with the wind blowing over 100 mph for a long time,” he said. “It was a pretty big impact.”
Westra declined to say who owns the data centers he worked for, but said that certain things have changed since the hurricane, with satellite phones and emergency planning now in place.
“After Maria, that was a pretty bad hurricane, so they are prepared for hurricanes,” said Westra, who added he went to Puerto Rico to help after a change in management at the Caribbean data center.
It took 13 hours to go from Washington to Puerto Rico, Westra said. The trip occurred in early October, and Westra returned from Puerto Rico in mid-November.
He said there’s no trip back scheduled.
“I enjoyed it,” he said. “It was hard to be away from family, but being there I enjoyed it. The weather was nice. It was a good atmosphere down there.”
Maria was a tough test for the Puerto Ricans, Westra said, but it’s in the past.
“They rebuilt, they recovered and they seem to be going on with life,” he said.

By Sebastian Moraga,