Huntsville Utilities Crews Return from Sandy Recovery

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — While recovery efforts from Sandy are still underway across the Northeast, volunteers from the Tennessee Valley have just returned from dedicating their time and energy to the clean-up.


Huntsville Utilities Crews returned home safely on Sunday evening after helping restore power to homes and businesses in Long Island, New York.


The power company was contacted by officials representing Long Island Power Authority and entered into a mutual aide agreement on November 2nd.


The crews worked 16-hour workdays over a period of 8 days while assisting with the relief efforts.


Huntsville Utilities crews believed they could be of help up north since it wasn’t their first encounter with a natural disaster. Line manager John Harbin says the crews had an idea of what to expect after experiencing devastation during April 2011.


“The area where we were working, it was kinda of like it was here,” said Harbin. “They couldn’t get power to the area for a few days, so we were making repairs to the main feeders.”


Harbin said the main difference between Superstorm Sandy recovery and April 27th was that some of the damage was not visible at first glance.


“It was like an iceberg, you could tell there was damage but you couldn’t see most of it because the houses were standing,” he said. “If you just went by or flew over it, you’d see the debris but the houses were intact but with a tornado, everything is gone.”


Despite rumored reportrs of other local utilities crews being turned away due to non-union status, Harbin reiterated that it was not the case.


“We were not turned away, we knew it was a big union town so we were concerned,” he said. “To the credit of the guys we worked with, they were very happy to have the assistance.”


Harbin also says that the help from the Tennessee Valley definitely did not go unnoticed.


“They were just tickled to death that we were there,” he said. “We were welcomed with open arms.”