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IBEW Members Respond to Hurricane Sandy

Photo courtesy of Brian R. Birke's Flickr photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brbirke/

This is a cross-post from IBEW, "IBEW Members Respond to Hurricane Sandy." Stay tuned for our upcoming website feature on all the work union members are doing for relief and rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. 

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc across the Eastern Seaboard, from North Carolina to New England, knocking down power lines and flooding coastal communities. Hardest hit were New York and New Jersey, leaving more than 1 million residents without power and many without homes.

IBEW members from throughout the country are pitching in to restore power and fix damaged infrastructure.

“Devastating,” IBEW Local 1289 Business Manager Edward Stroup III from Wall, N.J., says about Sandy.

Stroup represents workers at Jersey Central Power and Light—a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp.—which provides power to more than 1 million central New Jersey residents. He says:

There are houses that have been totaled, houses that are almost beyond repair, massive infrastructure problems—it’s a huge mess.

His linemen are working around the clock to help get tens of thousands of customers’ power back on. The company says the priority is responding to hazardous situations and fixing major infrastructure damage, like substation and transmission facilities.

Says Stroup:

There are lines with multiple problems, which have to be fixed. It seems like there are trees down on every block and if it didn’t hit a house, it took out a power line.

Safety is both the IBEW’s and company’s top goal, he says, reporting no injuries despite the dangerous nature of the work.

Hardest hit has been the Jersey Shore, with the oceanfront communities of Atlantic City and Asbury Park overrun by flooding that tore up boardwalks and homes.

Says Atlantic City IBEW Local 210 Business Manager Charles Hill:

Massive tidal surges covered the roads in over three feet of sand. They’ve got snow plows working to clear the roads.

Hill says they’ve got everyone working to clean up the damage, with help from IBEW linemen from across the country and inside wiremen from IBEW Local 351 in Folsom.

The Washington, D.C., metro-area, hit bad by last summer’s derecho storms, was largely spared the widespread damage seen in the Northeast, says IBEW Local 1900 Business Manager Jim Griffin of Washington, D.C., who represents workers at Pepco.

In fact, the local is sending a team of more than 20 workers, who specialize in underground line work, to New York City, which was hit by floods and blackouts that shut down the subway system and darkened lower Manhattan.  

Says Griffin:

Much of ConEd’s system is underground, so they need all the help they can get. It will be a long process just to pump all the water out.

IBEW linemen from areas outside the storm region are also working to clean up the damage.

IBEW Local 816 member Dustin Croley of Paducah, Ky., is in Massachusetts to help restore power.

Waiting out the worst of the storm on Cape Cod, he told hometown WPSD-TV:

It didn’t rain a lot but the wind got really bad, broke a lot of trees, and the power went out several times.

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