Lineman explains what crews will face following Florence

A veteran electricity lineman with Joe Wheeler EMC said it could take weeks to get all the power back on after the storm.

Posted: Sep 12, 2018 10:59 PM

Electricity linemen from across the Tennessee Valley are already in the Carolinas, or are preparing to go to the Carolinas to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

Huntsville Utilities already has several crews in the area. The Tennessee Valley Authority will be sending 80 people and the Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Cooperative will also send several crews. That shows just how serious all of those different organizations are taking this storm.

Patrick Turner is a veteran lineman for Joe Wheeler EMC and has seen first hand the damage a storm like Florence can cause.

"In the past we've seen catastrophic stuff. Trees down, power lines down, roads blocked," said Turner.

As people in the Carolinas board up their homes in preparation for fifty plus mile per hour winds.

Turner and Joe Wheeler EMC are among the linemen preparing too. Making sure one of their do it all trucks is ready to go.

"It has the capability of lifting material up in the air, transformers, breakers, what have you, cross arm. It's like having a third hand to the lineman that's up in the bucket," said Turner.

From his experience Turner said all of the linemen will work long days.

"12-16 hours a day. Sometimes even longer," said Turner.

Even with long hours it could take a while to get all of the power back on.

"It could be up to several weeks. Sometimes we'll send the first crew down and after a couple weeks we normally swap out with another fresh crew," said Turner.

Those crews will have to deal with potentially deadly dangers.

"Live power lines sometimes," said Turner.

It's all worth it to see the looks on people's faces as they roll up to get their power working again.

"They're very glad to see us coming," said Turner.

According to Turner money from the Federal Emergency Management Agencty reimburses linemen for the work they do to get power back on.

Joe Wheeler EMC is a smaller co-op, so they can't send as many people as Huntsville Utilities, but they're planning on sending two trucks with crews and maybe more if the situation is really bad. 

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