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Locals assist with storm recovery

Shelley Dawson, Aerial Contractors co-owner, talks to  a driver heading to New York to help clean up from Hurricane Sandy. - James Murray/Black Press
Shelley Dawson, Aerial Contractors co-owner, talks to a driver heading to New York to help clean up from Hurricane Sandy.
— image credit: James Murray/Black Press

BARB BROUWER

Black Press

A local company has joined the push to restore power to New York communities that were hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Aerial Contractors, an electric utility power line contractor based in Vernon and Salmon Arm, has deployed 15 men, six bucket trucks and three digger derrick units, along with service mechanics, to support the restoration efforts in progress on Long Island and in New Jersey.

The local convoy joined an overall B.C. deployment of approximately 90 power lineman and 60 pieces of equipment. After seeing images of the destruction and people affected by the powerful storm, Salmon Arm branch owners Shelley and Bill Dawson had no hesitation in stepping up to help when the call came in.

“There’s no borders when it comes to things like this,” Shelley says.

The call came Nov. 2, originating from FEMA, the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency under the mutual aid agreement for electric utilities.

Shelley said the company’s participation was not confirmed until 7:30 p.m., after which phoning began to get crews mustered for Saturday’s 4 a.m. departure.

“We’re very impressed with everyone stepping up to the plate, especially on such short notice,” said Shelley Monday. “It will be a rewarding experience they’ll never forget, something they’ll talk about for the rest of their lives.”

“Crews will be working extended shifts in an extremely hazardous environment, as many of the downed lines may still be energized, and access to work sites impacted by flood damage is extremely difficult,” says an Aerial press release.

Aerial Contractors general manager Glenn Barr says the company’s past experience performing storm repairs in Seattle and Washington State provides them with the necessary approval to work for electric utilities in the United States during major storm events.

According to the Long Island Power Authority, there are currently an estimated 7,000 linemen working on Long Island alone, drawn from utilities and contractors from across the U.S. and Canada.

Given the extent of damage and a forecast for more bad weather rolling in midweek, it is unclear when all customers will have power restored or when the Aerial crews will return home.

Aerial has operated in Salmon Arm for the past 21 years, putting in power lines on a subcontract basis with BC Hydro, working on commercial sites and high-voltage projects.

 

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