Local workers head out to restore Sandy-ravaged areas

WASHINGTON – The Dominion Virginia Power company sent 1,500 of its workers to New Jersey on Friday morning to help fellow utility companies up north after the company restored power to its last batch of Virginia customers.

In the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, the Dominion workers are returning the favor by other power companies that have helped the Washington region after major storms like this summer’s derecho.

Dominion Construction Manager Jeff Malaby describes power restoration as a “brotherhood” and that power systems up and down the East Coast look “relatively the same” which helps the pitching in effort.

“There is a culture amongst linemen,” says Malaby. “We provide an absolute necessity to the customer base and the customer base usually welcomes us with open arms.”

Even though the workers expect to face danger, Dominion groundsman Dwight Brown says, “All of us knew that when we signed up for this line of work, there would be events like this where we would be out of town and away from our families for extended periods of time so we are mentally prepared for it.”

Brown is one of the crew members headed north.

Six trucks of local Red Cross workers and supplies headed to West Virginia on Friday as well. Some workers expect to stay two weeks to assist parts of West Virginia that saw three feet of snow, flooding and power outages.

The emergency response trucks left the Red Cross Regional Disaster Coordination Center in Fairfax, Va. carting food, water and other supplies to the West Virginia residents displaced by Sandy.

“A lot of people have already gone up to New York and New Jersey and those regions but a lot of people didn’t notice the snow that had hit West Virginia,” says Rebecca Callahan of the Red Cross.

Thousands of people are currently in shelters in West Virginia and the number is growing of those affected in the state by superstorm Sandy.

WTOP’s Neil Augenstein and John Aaron contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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