Hurricane power restoration: local Appalachian Power crews deploy to Georgia

PHOTO: Samantha Zarek

WASHINGTON COUNTY, VA - Appalachian power is sending nearly 400 employees to Florida and Georgia to aid in hurricane relief efforts. Three crews from Appalachian Power in Glade Spring, Virginia are heading south. Six employees from the glade spring service center are going to Macon, Georgia. While there, they'll assess outages and restore power.

"They'll be assessing, determining what is needing to be done, getting a list of materials, and then the line crews will come in behind and build and in some cases from the news, it appears they're going to have to totally reconstruct power lines," says Glade Spring Appalachian Power external affairs manager Mary Begley.

The crews are selected on a voluntary rotating basis. For some, it's their first hurricane relief experience.

"It's going to be great to be able to help people out, so I'm kind of excited about it, anxious and excited, and a little nervous too," says engineering technician Scarlet Collie.

Hurricane restoration comes with many challenges for the crews.

"After the time we get there, these people have already been without power for several days so they're aggravated, they're irritated, and we're coming into unfamiliar area. The work is real similar, but there are some challenges you face that are different," says lineman Garrison Kopp.

Not all challenges will be work related.

"The most difficult part about this is being away from your family for an unknown amount of time," Kopp says.

As the number of days without power add up, the need is becoming urget.

"In Georgia and Florida right now temperatures are high, people are in their homes, sometimes senior citizens, people with children who need air conditioning as quickly as possible, who need refrigeration. Sometimes there's medication that needs to be refrigerated, then for our businesses to get back to normal, employees to get back to work as quickly as possible," Begley says.

Helping when help is needed most inspired the Virginia deployment teams to assist in the effort.

"It's good to help out, you know we try to look out for each other, we look out for each other," Kopp says.

"When we had our tornado several years ago, we had a lot of outside companies that came and helped us. In fact, some of them were from Georgia, so this is just a way we help each other out," Collie says.

The crews will be gone for at least two weeks, and depending on the need, they could be gone longer.

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