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Unsung Hurricane Heroes: Out of State Linemen

Visiting crews from across the country have worked to restore power and repair decimated infrastructure.

They got the call after the storm had passed and then came in droves to help.

Working 16-hour shifts under grueling conditions and a muddled (at best) dispatch system, the out of state utility workman from places like Ohio and Duke Energy were crucial in restoring power to those cut off during the storm.

As the days post-Sandy dragged on, many rumors and stories began circulating about the repair crews.

"I could give you a dozen annecdotes about crews sitting around waiting for work orders," said Chester Township Mayor Bill Cogger.

On the Mendham-Chester Patch Facebook page and in the story comments, readers have been sharing their conversations with the line workers, and reiterating stagnation in orders being dispatched.

But on a positive note, nearly the work that the boots on the ground have been doing has been appreciated by the residents.

While repairing a line in front of Black River Middle School this week, an Ohio Energy employee who chose not to be identified by name said that people couldn't be nicer to the crews, despite more than a week without power.

"Everywhere we pull up people come out of their houses and offer us coffee, or water of whatever they have," the Lineman said. "People keep stopping in their cars and telling us how much they appreciate our work."

In an article posted by the Charlotte Observer, Duke Energy employee Steve Cranfill said the restoration work is proceeding slower due to the amount of damage to the poles in the area. Putting up one new pole requires a lot of planning and preparation, often including clearing trees, and can take several hours.

“The most challenging part for us has been just the level of difficulty in the work,” Cranfill told the Observer. “You work for half a day and just get a handful of customers on because of the damage. We’re used to putting in that kind of work and getting a lot of customers on.”

The Duke Energy employees are here as part of a mutual aid contract where assisting companies keep track of their hours and expenses and then bill the local utility.

"These guys from Duke Energy are saints," Cogger said. "I have never seen folks work so hard and for so long trying to get power back to people."

Sue Underwood November 12, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I think we should post "Thank you " signs at the I-78 and I-80 exits laving NJ so the workers see them as they depart. They did a wonderful job in locales they were unfamiliar with, despite the lack of managing that came from the local power authorities. Some of the workers stated they were amazed at the antiquated system we have compared to what they are used to - so I bet that also impacted the repairs! Imagine trying to get parts for a system that is perhaps not the current "model" - what an unnecessary headache to add to the timeline of repairing the damage.
Donna November 12, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Currently traveling on NJ Tpke. North just over the DE/NJ line and those lovely orange Asplundh trucks are now traveling in opposite direction, going back to their homes. Wish I could yell " thanks" to ea one of them. Also witnessed several trucks carrying telephone poles up North.
Lorre November 12, 2012 at 09:37 PM
We try to get the names of the companies and post to their FB pages. Great to see so many here in our hour(s) of need.
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