Posted at: 10/29/2012 5:42 PM
By: Dan Conradt
Local Utility Crews Mobilize For Sandy Recovery
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Utility repair crews from around the country have been put on notice they might soon be part of a massive repair effort on the east coast.
Some crews in our area know what it's like to clean-up from "the storm of a lifetime".
They were doing just that, almost 21 years ago to the day.
"The ice was really thick on the lines. It stuck really well and the wind had picked up," said Freeborn Mower Cooperative Services’ Larry Underdahl. He was a lineman for the co-op at the time of the 1991 Halloween ice storm. “The wind caught it and down they went."
“Around 1,000 poles on the ground. That's unfathomable," said Freeborn Mower’s Jim Krueger.
The storm knocked out all of the co-op’s eleven substations, meaning everyone on the system was without power.
"Our hardest hit area was the Sargent area, was the farthest out. It was three weeks before we got power out there," Larry Underdahl remembered.
But it could have been worse if it hadn't been for help from around the Midwest.
"We had 200 linemen came in and helped us put things back up," said Freeborn Mower’s Larry Underdahl.
And repair crews from Freeborn Mower and other Minnesota utilities might soon be headed east.
"We've been put on notice, on standby. If we get the call, send help if need be," Larry Underdahl told us.
“They're doing a lot of the things we'd do here in the Midwest. They're making their advance preparations, putting crews on notice that hey, we're going to need help when this thing leaves the area," said the co-op’s Jim Krueger.
“Some of the utilities have upwards of 2,000 linemen on stand-by just waiting for the call to come out and help."
And whether the outage happens in rural Minnesota or in the heart of New York, the procedure is basically the same.
"You get your sub station, main power supply back in working order and you can work out from the sub station to get as many people on as you can in a short period of time," Larry Underdahl explained.
And when the call comes, the Minnesota crews will go willingly.
"There's a great sense of pride and accomplishment when they're able to put that line up and throw the power back on and the lights come back on," Jim Krueger said.
Alliant Energy crews from Mason City, Britt and Buffalo Center, Iowa left Sunday to help with repairs out east.
In all, 110 employees from the Alliant service area have been dispatched.