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Electrical crews head to Long Island to help repair storm damage

Farmers Independent of Bagley, Minnesota

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Super Storm Sandy was unprecedented more than 1,000 miles wide. Damage was extensive, catastrophic, and widespread. Restoring power outages left in its wake is the biggest single task the electric utility industry ever has undertaken.

Clearwater-Polk Electric, Otter Tail Power Company, and other electric utility firms have responded by sending work crews to help repair the storm's damage to electrical systems on the East Coast.

According to Clearwater-Polk Electric Cooperative Manager Bruce Bjerke, one crew of two men and a bucket truck headed to Bethpage, Long Island Friday afternoon, arriving there around 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

They reported to Bjerke that 1,000 crews arrived at Long Island Sunday. At 7:30 p.m. Sunday they still were not sure what they would be doing. On Monday they had breakfast and were given a boxed lunch and assigned to a crew leader, who is more aptly described as a guide, to lead them to where they would work.

The two crewmen from Clearwater-Polk said they slept in the truck, because the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers set up to house crews reportedly were infested with bedbugs. They told Bjerke the FEMA shower facilities weren't so nice, either.

Otter Tail Power Company sent 17 linemen, service representatives, and mechanics in a convoy for Bethpage, Long Island, taking three digger derricks, four bucket trucks, a mechanic repair truck, and two pickups. They will assist National Grid, the service provider for Long Island Power Authority. According to Dan Wynn, Otter Tail Power Company Supervisor of Operations and Training, who also is making the trip, utilities stand ready to assist each other when disaster hits. "We are joining 60,000 electrical workers already on the ground in the power restoration effort," said Wynn. "Reliable electric service is at the core of our industry. But catastrophic weather can happen at any time even without notice - bringing entire systems down. The skills required to repair these systems are highly specialized and the work is dangerous. But our guys know what it takes to pull through something like this and we'll be there to help."

Disaster recovery certainly is no small feat. But these guys are voluntarily leaving their families and the comfort of their own homes because it's important to people on the East Coast that power is restored as quickly and safely as possible.



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Original Publication Date: November 7, 2012



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