- Last Updated on 06:22 AM 11/21/12
- BY Special to the Gazette
Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative crews from Chase City, Gretna and Emporia have returned home safely after helping restore power to customers of Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) after Hurricane Sandy’s wrath.
Gov. Bob McDonnell had offered Virginia’s help to both New Jersey and New York, and 141 men from Virginia electric cooperatives aided those desperately in need.
Line workers from Mecklenburg, Rappahannock, Shenandoah Valley, Central Virginia, Northern Neck, Community and Prince George headed northward on the Saturday morning following the devastating hurricane. To ensure their safety, a safety team member of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) accompanied the crews.
Electric cooperatives are noted for always responding to help each other in time of need, but this was truly a historic event for Mecklenburg Electric and the other Virginia cooperatives because this marked the first time that they had been sent to assist an investor-owned utility.
“We are pleased that our men have returned home safely and that they were able to assist those whose lives were so severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” said John Lee, president and CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative. “I am told by our men that the consumers in New Jersey were extremely thankful for the efforts of our employees. Our men experienced many acts of kindness and gestures of appreciation…. but they added that there is no place like home. We are very proud of our linemen and groundmen; and while we are always pleased to help others when possible, we are always relieved when our men come back to us and their families safe and sound.”
Several New Jersey residents posted words of thanks on Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s Facebook page.
Brooke McLoughlin Zebrun posted, “I wanted to personally say thank you so much to Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative. My family was one of the families in N.J. that still did not have power, heat or water from the storm. After 11 days with two little boys at home and cold weather, it was getting rough, and there seemed no sign of hope from JCP&L. When I came home yesterday to see your trucks on my property with a new pole already up, I could not have been happier. The sacrifices these men are making are much appreciated. It will take a long time for this state to rebuild, but by you helping us get back to normal we can start helping others in our state who were hit the hardest. I also want to thank these men’s families who are also making sacrifices as well while their loved ones are away from home. It is so amazing to see our country work together in a time of need.”
In total, Jersey Central Power & Light had 14,500 personnel working to restore power. This included their in-house crews, contractors, line personnel from other utilities and right-of-way personnel. The number also included a storm logistics contractor who was responsible for providing food and lodging for this massive group of line personnel. Through everyone working together JCP&L has reduced their outages from over 500,000 to under 500, with projections of getting everyone back on in the next few days.
Estimates are that Hurricane Sandy knocked out electricity to 8.5 million customers and damaged utility systems in 21 states causing billions of dollars in damage.