In March, a team of powerline workers from Thunder Bay’s Gridlink laboured for 14 consecutive days to restore power to Newbury and Westchester in New York State.
When the weather gets bad, most of us are happy to stay sheltered indoors. But that’s the time when powerline workers are called in to work.
In late February and early March, a series of three nor’easters in New York brought down heavy snow and freezing rain, resulting in downed trees and powerlines across the state. Crews from all over the US and Canada were called in to help restore power. By March 4, a team from Gridlink (members of the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario) was on the scene.
“When duty calls, we think of the elderly, of the families with kids that are going without power,” says Geoff Miller, Powerline Division Manager for Gridlink. “Over the time we were there, we worked in 21 different areas. Some people had been without power for weeks.”
Miller’s team endured long 16 – 18 hour days of heavy labour to restore power in the communities. The rewards were greater than any paycheck, according to Miller.
“Sometimes people would come out to give us coffee or doughnuts. If they’ve been without power for a while we get a lot of hugs and handshakes. Whenever we entered a restaurant we got a standing ovation from the entire room. One of my new crew members came up to me afterwards and said, ‘there’s no better feeling than this, is there?’ I told him there really isn’t.”
Miller pauses to reflect. “Although sometimes you’d hear a kid saying, ‘that’s what I want to do when I grow up’, and that feels good too!”
Officials from the local utility companies were also appreciative. Ken Alonzo, a Line Foreman with Central Hudson Gas & Electric, was assigned to accompany Miller’s team. He later wrote to Miller to express his thanks.
“I appreciate your safety culture and detailed work plans and especially your attention to detail!” read part of the letter. “It was a pleasure to have you back on our property helping to restore power so quickly to thousands of our customers…You are all true professionals and a pleasure to work with, your positive spirit is contagious and you have certainly raised the bar!”