Two news items have made headlines: The first, which is extremely positive, is that this time around the country is heading towards a bumper crop, and the second is that Asian Development Bank (ADB) provides $650 million to help rebuild the flood-damaged infrastructure. However, the latter shows that the losses suffered during mid-2010 are still to be taken care of. Relevant data further reveals that the housing, water and sanitation, health, education, communications and infrastructure facilities are still lacking. Delving into the heart of the matter, we see that the unprecedented floods of 2010, which broke the earlier record of 1929, came as a surprise to the masses. In December 2009, followed by January 2010, we saw extremely low rainfall in comparison to the earlier year. Actually, the precipitation was less by 30 percent on the national scale and a startling 98 percent less for the Punjab. There was no rainfall in Islamabad during this period. Thereafter, February and March 2010 proclaimed the arrival of drought conditions. The meteorological pundits then declared that it would be normal from April onwards, while the 38-year-old heat record had been broken in Lahore and many other cities. The samepeople started informing the public that mild floods may be seen in the summers, but the prophecy was changed to high floods by early June 2010. Actually, it was this quickly changing position that probably led the whole country to relax and just cater to the extensive heat around us. The situation in the power sector was not so. We at Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO), which I headed as Managing Director, were mindful of all changes and were in touch with the Met authorities on an hourly basis through the National Power Control Centre. Consequently, we were in a position to make whatever changes were required in order to supply and quench the high demands spurned on account of the record-breaking heat. We were also, somehow, able to serve the high agricultural tubewell demands, which in fact were nearly three times of the normal because of the drought conditions. Although the public was not satisfied, yet the PEPCO was able to serve aptly considering the low extremely hydel capacity at its disposal. Furthermore, the mid-June 2010 announcements of the Met department made it clear that the floods may be in the offing. As most of the power system is overhead and susceptible to the vagaries of weather, PEPCO quickly setup flood control centres through the length and breadth of the country. These centres were required to be duly staffed and provided the materials needed to counter the negatives of flood. A round-the-clock vigilance was also a part of this exercise. Understanding the requirements and drawing upon the experience garnered during the earlier floods of 1973, 1976, 1979 and onwards, such equipment and materials were provided at all the centres as are needed to mitigate the possible damages. The best part was the one button or call away access to each of these centres by MD PEPCO and the CEOs of the power distributing companies. Also, understanding the requirements for quick, controlled and planned shutdowns, and the obligation for the subsequent fast track revival, exercises were conducted all over the country right from Khyber to Nooriabad in the south (where after KESCs jurisdiction starts). It will be important to note that planned shutdowns assure safety of equipment and life of the personnel. It also enhances the possibility of full revival once the waters recede from the particular area. This is of extreme importance, when it relates to equipment like distribution and power transformers, control panels and power line communication equipment. Thereafter, right from the point the Met office informed the public about the huge swell of flood in the Gilgit-Baltistan area, the whole of PEPCO system was ready to receive the floods. Consequently, each mile of inroads made by the floods in the Indus and Jehlum rivers were duly catered for. However, the spate in the Swat and Kabul rivers were surely beyond expectations. It did not even allow the already shut power system to remain at its moorings and actually washed it all away. When the full fury of the floods hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially the Swat and Malakand divisions, the damages to the infrastructure, including the power system, was colossal. The initial damage to the Peshawar Electricity Supply Company (PESCO - the Disco for the province) was considered to be above Rs 3 billion. As everything was submerged, it was thought that all the 2,000 plus distribution transformers would have to be written off eventually, although planned shutdowns had been taken up a few hours before the waters hit that particular area. As all the personnel were ready to counter the effects of flood, and were fully motivated to do so, a team of engineers and technical staff headed by an Executive Engineer were marooned in a bid to save an imperative transmission line from being washed away. Unfortunately, in this marathon effort, the brave Executive Engineer and his Sub-Engineer lost their lives, but the line was saved. Subsequently, within a week of the floodwater receding, this imperative line started feeding the important towns of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Attock in Punjab. The personnel of the Electric Supply Company (FESCO), and the Multan Electric Supply Company (MEPCO), were able to look after the system following the Indus River, as the floods crossed their areas of jurisdiction. Thereafter, the floods inundated the province of Sindh and the power system of Hyderabad Electric Supply Corporation (HESCO). Here, special mention is made of the 220KV Lodra grid station at Shikarpur, which was feeding the whole of western Sindh and the adjoining eastern part of Balochistan. In fact, 17 (132KV and 66KV) grid stations were being fed from this hub, and on account of innovative engineering, this grid station was kept energised even when it was under five to six feet of floodwater. This is the only operation in the world and could only be undertaken because of the full time availability of PEPCOs higher management and the technical prowess it had to its disposal. Once true assessment was made for the whole system, it was considered that a loss of Rs 12 billion could have been sustained by the power system. However, it was thought that there were all the possibilities that the system could be re-energised within 7 to 15 days. And that the losses could be minimised through innovative thought. Because of the fact that the flood control plan had already been put in place, while men and material were also available at hand, and that too at the right places, indeed the countrys power system was re-energised and rehabilitated within a fortnight and surely way head of any other utility and facility in the country. The two power stations viz 340MW AES Lalpir and 340MW AES Pakgen were also brought in service by the operators in the least time because of the planned shutdown and the great help received from possible PEPCOs Muzaffargarh thermal power station. In fact, the experience garnered earlier on at the Guddu power station during 2000 in wake of the flooding rains came handy. Additionally, the transformer manufacturers in Pakistan were requested to pitch in with their expertise in the reclamation of hydrated transformation equipment at low costs. Consequently, 5,000 distribution transformers, which otherwise would have been required to be condemned, were reclaimed at a very low cost. All in all, the earlier damage estimates of Rs 12 billion was brought down to Rs 2.645 billion only, which too has been absorbed by PEPCO itself and without waiting for the MLDAs to pay for the rehabilitation. It is because of the advance flood control plans, the implementation of the system, and the bounties of nature through the provision of rich alluvial soil, that agriculture was able to resurrect itself and now hopes are high for a bumper crop. However, the main reason for the current good news is surely the quick and timely restoration of the power system. On the other hand, as the irrigation system, including canals/minors, was badly hit and is still not fully restored, the main brunt for providing water for irrigation were the 250,000 tubewells running on electricity. According to statistics, these tubewells drew 21 percent more electricity from the PEPCO grid in comparison to 2009, and this is what made the difference. PEPCOs crises management during the 2010 floods was probably the right way to manage the various crises we have to face. n The writer is an Engineer and President of the Institution of Electrical & Electronics Engineers Pakistan. Email: