By Lynn Jenkins/Times Sentinel columnist
Zionsville Times Sentinel
Four line workers from Lebanon Utilities logged more than 1,500 miles on their work vehicle earlier this month by traveling to New Jersey to aid in power restoration to the East Coast after Superstorm Sandy.
The men spent 10 days helping to restore power in northeast Ohio and New Jersey after a powerful storm tore through the area and knocked out power to millions of customers in late October.
Nick Elliott, David Culley, Dustin Baker and Chad Revell left Lebanon on Nov. 2, taking a bucket truck and a digger derrick, and headed toward Parma, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb that was hit hard with rain and snow, which took out power all around the area. After doing all that was necessary there, they left on Nov. 5 and headed to Delaware, N.J., working there until their return on Monday, Nov. 12.
Baker enjoyed learning different methods of line construction and having the opportunity to help people in need, he said.
Elliott said it was a very rewarding trip that was also a learning experience.
“You don’t realize how much you rely on electricity until you don’t have it,” he said. “Everyone was extremely grateful. We even got a few hugs.”
Mike Adams, a Lebanon Utilities manager and supervisor of these four men, said before he can send anyone to help outside of Lebanon, he must first ensure everything is safe at home. The storm had totally passed through Indiana by Nov. 1, and he knew Lebanon was in the clear.
Lebanon Utilities is part of a mutual aid organization, the Indiana Municipal Electric Association. The IMEA asked if Lebanon had anyone who would be able to go east and do restoration work.
“These men did volunteer,” Adams said. “There were others who volunteered as well, but we had to be careful about preparing the right kind of skill sets. We wanted to send strong performers, and we have a really strong group of line employees.”
The situation on the East Coast was a little odd, Adams added. Usually, after a storm, crews work to put power facilities back into operation. But many communities in the area simply do not exist anymore, so there was no reason to restore power to those locations.
“They had to look at things a little differently in this type of a storm,” Adams said.
Revell said the experience was great because he was able to build relationships with other linemen and new people. But it also put things in perspective, especially close to the Thanksgiving holiday.
“It was a great feeling helping people that are in great need,” he said. “People don’t realize how fortunate they really are sometimes. We need to take a step back and realize what we are thankful for.”
Culley agreed, saying what he saw also gave him some perspective.
“Seeing the devastation a hurricane can cause and knowing what thousands of people endured makes you appreciative of what you have,” he said.