Valley PG&E workers head to the East Coast

October 31, 2012 12:15:44 AM PDT
Utility workers from the Valley are arriving on the East Coast Tuesday night, preparing to help restore power to millions who are living without electricity.

Workers based out of PG&E in Fresno are part of the disaster relief. All morning, they received safety training, which explained current conditions on the East Coast and what they will be doing to offer assistance in the aftermath of Sandy.

Ten utility workers from the Central Valley are leaving power poles here and traveling across the country to help with power problems far more severe.

150 PG&E workers are assisting with a mutual aid request to help desperate residents on the East Coast.

Jimmy Rogers is one of the workers who got briefed in Northern California Tuesday morning. He's been to many disasters before and is ready to help wherever he's needed.

"A lot of times they don't know where we are from, but when you get their power back on, it's a- there's a lot of pride in that," Rogers said. "We enjoy seeing their faces when they get their power back on."

PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles says local crews will assist with scenarios they are already familiar with, downed trees and flooding are just a few. Workers are prepared to stay for several weeks or as long as they are needed.

"There's actually a lot of areas in New York city that are still underwater and so the water is going to have damaged the equipment," Boyles said. "So the first step is getting that water out, other workers will be doing that and then once it's safe to work on the electrical equipment, our workers will help restore power."

The disaster has local cities like Clovis re-evaluating their own emergency plan. Chad Fitzgerald says the city practices for emergencies that are more likely to happen in our area.

"It's extreme heat, it's extreme cold," Fitzgerald said. "It's flooding, certainly earthquake preparedness in California and a population influx as strange as that may sound is a crisis for a local community when you get an influx of people fleeing from some of those higher risk areas."

Useful tools are also helpful in emergency situations. Cameras help give crisis workers a firsthand look at the problem. Although Sandy is thousands of miles from the Central Valley, emergency response teams say it's a good reminder to have enough food and water at home at all times to last at least three days.

Local employees will begin work Wednesday. And they will be helping the power company offer relief, so crews can have power restoration in effect 24 hours a day.


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