Reporting for Duty as a Sewer Repair Supervisor and as a Father

Daniel Pray has been in the line of sewer repair work for more than 12 years. Of those years, five of them have been working at the SFPUC. Pray is currently a Sewer Repair Supervisor for the SFPUC’s Sewer Operations team. While he says he is used to the pace of the job and dealing with ‘emergency’ type situations, seeing the City look like a ghost town is something that he has never seen before.

“It’s an eye-opening experience to see the city come to a stand-still from the hustle and bustle,” described Pray. “We work at 2 and 3 in the morning and we always see people out and about. It’s a little eerie not to see that.”

Pray describes the streets of San Francisco to be even emptier as each week passes. In San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, a once busy tourist attraction is deserted, with only a handful of cars on the road.

“The hardest part is having to leave the house each day,” explained Pray. “My wife is a nurse, so we are both essential workers. What’s going on is scary and leaving my kids every day is really hard.” 

Pray and his wife, a registered nurse of 12 years are alternating time-off to stay at home with their kids. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they had spring break plans for Pray’s mother-in-law to watch the kids. But since she is in the high risk category, that has not been an option. The backup to the backup plan also fell through as the babysitter was also unable to watch the two kids.

Daniel Pray operating a vac con.

“We have to do what we can, when we can,” explained Pray. “My wife and I are both super cautious. We strip our work clothes off in the garage and put them directly in the sink in the garage. We don’t wear work clothes in the house. Work shoes either. We are trying to avoid contamination as much as possible.”

Pray says he and his wife are trying to limit the amount of news their kids are getting exposure to, in order to keep their optimism high. But when they can go outside for a leisurely walk around the block as they normally do as a family, there is a new set of rules in place.

“We are way stricter than ever. The kids know to wash their hands, outside shoes stay in the garage and no picking up sticks on the way,” explained Pray.

Instead, at least for now, Pray says, the kids will take turns holding the family dog’s leash.

“Keeping everyone safe is my priority, at work and at home,” says Pray. 

SFPUC Sewer Repair Team at work, led by Daniel Pray.