A Call During Disaster
Reggie Overfelt got the call to work at New River Electrical Corps during one of Southwest Virginia’s most tragic natural disasters: the Flood of 1985. On November 4, 1985, Hurricane Juan stalled over West Virginia and Virginia. In one day, more than six inches of rain fell on the Roanoke Valley, causing the Roanoke River to swell to its highest recorded level of 23.35 feet.
NRE often sends line crews to help restore power in states with hurricane damage, but this time, they got the call to help in a place that hit close to home. It was this sort of disaster that New River Electrical was prepared to handle.
“When the flood hit,” said Reggie, “they needed electricians. I got the call, and I went down there.”
Thirty-five years later, Reggie is no longer out in the field fixing power grids but works as a Project Manager in our Industrial Division in Cloverdale, Virginia. For the past eleven years, his job has been to manage complex heavy industrial installations at plants such as the Radford Arsenal and WestRock. Progressing from journeyman to substation control wiring, Reggie uses the skills and experience he gained in the field to lead his own team through these complex electrical installations.
Safety in Challenging Projects
“I’ve done just about everything you can imagine at one time or another,” said Reggie. “Probably one of our most challenging projects was the tunnel projects with Big Walker and East River Mountain Tunnels in 2005.”
Constructed in the late 1960s, the tunnels’ electrical systems were due for an upgrade. As foreman, Reggie and his team redid all the traffic lights, closing down the lanes, and working in the roadways.
“You’re inside a tunnel and have a lot of traffic coming by. There are always challenges there,” said Reggie.
Even though it was nerve-wracking to work in that environment day-in and day-out throughout the project, Reggie said he and his team worked hard to ensure the safety of their workers.
“There are lots of things you can do to help make things safe. We used lots of cones a mile or so back from the worksite with plenty of signs to make sure people knew there was construction ahead. When we were working, we would also place a large ‘crash truck’ in the blocked-off lane to keep us safe in the worst-case scenario.”
Reggie is proud of the quality work that he and his team did in such a taxing environment.
“We’re like a family”
After thirty-five years of quality work with New River Electrical, Reggie will be retiring in January 2020. Reggie will stay busy traveling all over the country for tournament bass fishing.
“Anywhere I can get on the water, I’ll go,” Reggie laughed. He also looks forward to spending time with his wife, three children, and two grandchildren.
Reggie looks back at his career and sees the people he’s worked with as the highlight.
“It’s just a great place to work,” said Reggie. “Our slogan is ‘We are New River,’ and everybody has a part. We’re an employee-owned company, and everyone has a stake in it.”
“It gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment,” said Reggie. “We’re like a family.”