The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 30, 2012

Huntsville will, Athens won’t send crews to east disaster

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— Huntsville Utilities plans to send three crews – a total of nine workers – to the east coast to help restore power to the waylaid eastern seaboard.

Tropical Storm Sandy has killed 39 people, many by falling trees, and left more than 8.2 million people without power from Maine to the Carolinas since it made landfall Monday.

“We are sending two three-man bucket crews and one three-man pole-setting crew, who will leave sometime in the morning,” Huntsville Utilities Communication Director Bill Yell said today.

He said the Huntsville crews will head toward Virginia but may be rerouted sometime tomorrow.

“It will take them all day to travel anyway, and when we know where they are needed they can be rerouted,” Yell said.

The workers will likely spend 10 days to two weeks in the area, he said, though they could be there only a few days depending on the need.

Athens Utilities

Athens Utilities will not be sending employees eastward, though in the past it has sent crews to Kentucky following a snowstorm and to Southern Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina, said Athens Utilities Manager Gary Scroggins.

“We’ve never sent anyone to the northeast,” Scroggins said. “We normally don’t like to send them that far unless there is a real emergency.”

He was not trying to downplay the disaster.

“Over the weekend some people contacted us about sending some people as far as New York City, but they were just trying to line crews up ahead of time.”

He said it would be difficult for a smaller utility like Athens Utilities to send a crew so far because if a storm was to strike here, it would take them a long time to return.

“From what we are hearing now, there have been a lot of private contractors coming thee and they are not requesting any help this far away right now,” he said.

As some Alabama citizens respond to disaster recovery calls from the northeast, Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman reminds registered voters who may be leaving the state to help storm victims and communities that Thursday is the deadline to apply for the absentee ballot for the Nov. 6 General Election. The Alabama Power Company and the Red Cross are among the groups sending employees and volunteers to respond to the storm.