MILWAUKEE — As Sandy made landfall on the east coast Monday, October 29th, many in Wisconsin were hard at work, preparing to provide relief to those in the storm’s path. Service Master and We Energies are two companies hoping to lend a helping hand when it comes to Sandy cleanup efforts.
On Wednesday morning, October 31st, a crew of 25 workers left southeast Wisconsin from the We Energies Racine Service Center and headed east to help with recovery efforts.
20 line mechanics, two supervisors and three support managers loaded their bucket trucks Wednesday. They'll travel first to Redford, Michigan -- near Detroit. Then they'll likely head to the East Coast, where the numbers affected by Sandy are even greater.
"You never really know. It can run from something very simple like service to a house, to wires, to broken poles," line mechanic Kim Higginbotham said.
Higginbotham is no stranger to storm-ravaged areas. She helped restore power to tornado victims in Missouri six years ago, and didn't hesitate to volunteer a second time around.
"Saying goodbye to the kids -- that's probably the toughest part of being gone, but it's exciting knowing that you're going to help a lot of people. It's a really good feeling," Higginbotham said.
Around eight million people are still without electricity in several Eastern states, including New York and New Jersey, so volunteers are prepared to work long hours under any conditions.
"We don't know if we'll end up in snow country, from the blizzard, or if we're going to be in knee high water. It's some messy stuff, so we don't know what we're going to get into," Operations Supervisor Ivan Keller said.
With the damage so widespread, it'll be a big undertaking to get everyone back online. For this crew, it's a mission that could take at least two weeks.
"Hopefully, we can make a difference going out there," Higginbotham said.
On Thursday, November 1st, 10 more We Energies employees will leave and meet up with the rest of the crew in Michigan.
We Energies says 50 contract crews were already dispatched prior to the storm to assist in power restoration efforts. It’s part of the voluntary mutual assistance program involving utilities across the country.
Service Master left for the east coast on Tuesday, October 30th. They sent a semi to the east coast, packed with about 300 blowers and other equipment, along with four vehicles equipped with a vacuuming apparatus.
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