Seattle City Light crews helping to restore power on Long Island following Hurricane Sandy are making progress in repairs for the Centre Island area where residents have responded with much appreciation.
“They can’t believe we came all the way from Seattle,” Crew Supervisor Kevin McClaskey said.
After Hurricane Sandy hammered the northeast, Seattle City Light was one of many utilities from across the country and Canada to offer assistance. City Light is helping the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which had about 950,000 customers out of power at the height of the storm. Crews brought that down to about 130,000 customers before a noreaster brought heavy, wet snow that toppled more trees and increased the number of affected customers to about 260,000 early Thursday Morning, Nov. 8.
Seattle City Light sent 14 employees — two five-person line crews, two engineers, a supervisor and a safety adviser — along with two large bucket trucks and two digger derrick trucks that dig holes for setting utility poles. The crews are trained in construction methods for both transmission and distribution work.
LIPA assigned the City Light crews to the Centre Island area along Oyster Bay where they teamed up with Horizon Electric crews from Ontario, Canada. They are working from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., replacing utility poles and cross arms broken by the two storms, hanging new wire and replacing transformers.
“A lot of trees came down into lines and knocked the lines down,” McClaskey said, noting that the damage he has seen is similar to what Seattle experiences after a wind storm and was comparable to the damage caused by the 1993 Inaugural Day storm.
With fuel supplies affected by the damage from the storm, keeping equipment fueled up has been one of the challenges for the crews as they continue their recovery work, but the workers have been encouraged by the warm response from residents.
“They’re trying to give us coffee and sandwiches, even asking if we need a hot shower,” McClaskey said. “They’re very appreciative.”
For their sleep breaks, City Light’s crews were provided rooms at a marina on Centre Island.
“We’ve got rooms. We’ve got food,” McClaskey said. “I couldn’t ask for more support here than what we’re getting. Anything we need, they get it for us right away.”
On Twitter, look for the #SandyHelp hastag for updates on recovery efforts.