Electricity isn’t as important as food, water and air, but it’s close. Without it, modern man’s world stops revolving. Forget luxuries such as TV and Internet access; things like refrigerated food and working gas pumps are vital. And in places like New Orleans, Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa — sites touched by massive storms in recent years — residents know the reality of powerless existence all-too well.
Add much of the Northeast to that after Superstorm Sandy, which killed more than 100 people in 10 states and caused untold billions of dollars in damage. But it also left thousands of people in multiple states in the dark for the better part of two weeks. Some today still don’t have it because the damage is simply too extensive.
Utility companies have no choice but to rely on workers from other states to help them repair the downed lines, damaged transformers and snapped poles. After Sandy, thousands of out-of-state workers — including around 500 from Alabama Power Co. — poured into New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and other northeastern states.
On Thursday, The New York Times detailed how one group of utility workers lived during their stay in the city while helping restore power to Consolidated Edison customers.
Workers lived in an encampment set up in the New York Hall of Science parking lot in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Workers from 30 states and two Canadian provinces slept in two barracks-style tents that housed 500 cots. After working up to 16 hours a day, the workers were treated to hot showers, clean toilets, laundry service and catered food. Portable heaters kept them warm at night.
When another storm, a northeaster, hit during the height of the Sandy recovery, the men slept inside the Hall of Science, The Times said.
Alabama is no stranger to Mother Nature’s wrath. Our state’s electrical workers are experienced in repairing power grids after Gulf Coast hurricanes and tornadoes here, much less in other states. Given our state’s history with all forms of storm damage, it’s safe to assume Alabama’s linemen are as experienced in this unique form of disaster response as any other state’s.
In the case of Sandy, those linemen continue to receive high praise from New Jersey residents, many of whom have taken to Twitter to offer their thanks. A few samples:
“Need to give mad props to the guys from Alabama Power who restored my mom’s electricity in South Amboy last Sunday …”
“Thank you Alabama Power for making trips to Jersey to help get electric (sic) back in our homes …”
“Day 11 and the power returned! … So grateful for Alabama Power. They rock working around the clock! …”
Let this be a shout-out to all of those who travel far to help those affected by these killer storms. Long hours and dangerous work have rarely been so rewarding.