Posted at: 11/02/2012 5:26 PM
By: Gordon Severson
Minnesota Utility Workers Head to East Coast
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Recovering from the massive storm will be a long and difficult journey.
Locally we're adding muscle to the effort.
Friday afternoon a handful of utility crews left Rochester for Long Island New York.
"It's just a different atmosphere to work in when there's a big chaos," RPU Line Worker Matt Tupper says.
Following the situation with hurricane Sandy, RPU linesmen Bjorn Olson and Matt Tupper knew that a call from the East Coast was a distinct possibility.
"We've had it before where we've been called and didn't get to go anywhere," Olson explains.
So when the call came from Long Island New York, they didn't really expect things to work out.
"This is probably the farthest we've gone in the last few years. We have gone to Missouri and Arkansas and worked an ice storm there with part of these crews," Jeff Becthold of the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association says.
Both Matt and Bjorn were involved in that recovery. Every time an opportunity comes they just can't pass it up.
"When the storm hits it's kind of when we shine," Tupper says.
However, this time they're not alone.
21 other thrill seekers from nine Minnesota utilities will join them on their journey.
Crews from Austin, Owatonna, Chaska, Wilmar and Saint Peter all answered the call.
"It's a different trade off leaving the family behind," says Tupper.
Before hitting the road, the group set up a game plan for their 20-hour drive to Long Island.
Going through fueling stops and schedules making sure every crew member makes it to the drop site.
"Most of the guys don't do it for the recognition or anything like that. They just really enjoy their work and doing it," Olson says.
For them it's an opportunity to see some new sights, work with new people and help a few families in the process.
"It's pretty rewarding. The customers have been out of power for almost a week already. They're really appreciative when you get there," Tupper says.
After taking a quick group picture in front of their rigs, the group took off.
Starting their week-long effort to get the East Coast back up and running.
The 23 crew members will spend the next week fixing power lines in New York neighborhoods.
If necessary they could stay there an additional week or two depending on how many other crews show up.