Columbus, Neb. – Line technicians from Nebraska Public Power District are returning from the east coast after two weeks of assisting electric utilities in West Virginia and New Jersey restore electricity to areas hit by Hurricane Sandy.
The NPPD crew of 16 line technicians was notified Sunday evening that they were being released from their work with Jersey Central Power and Light. They began the long-trek home Monday and are expected back by mid-week.
The crew, led by NPPD Distribution Superintendent Dennis Wademan of Scottsbluff included technicians from various NPPD operations including: Nathan Abels of South Sioux City; T.J. Askelson of Lexington; Tom Reeson of Ogallala; Jerry Lewis of Norfolk; Steve Derr of Sutherland; Zac Bryant of Scottsbluff; Dave Austin of Shelton; Rob Pedersen of Scottsbluff; Chris Lammers of Ainsworth; Mike McLaughlin of Humboldt; Doug Johnson of Gordon; Tyler Nixon of Oakland; Jared Rojewski of York; Matthew McGrew of Atkinson; and John DeFreece of Pawnee City.
"We are extremely proud of this team's effort to go above and beyond their normal call of duty" said President and CEO Pat Pope on NPPD's storm restoration efforts.
The crews left October 31 and initially assisted Appalachian Power Company in West Virginia.
More than 150,000 Appalachian Power Company customers were reported to be without power due to blizzard conditions and heavy snow in the state from the storm. Organizing this assistance was the Midwest Mutual Aid group composed of various utilities in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.
NPPD's crew completed work in West Virginia on November 4 and moved east to one of the hardest hit areas of Hurricane Sandy, central New Jersey.
There they assisted Jersey Central Power and Light and other restoration crews from around the country to restore power. Over 400,000 customers were without power and several thousand power line poles were reportedly broken as a result of the storm.
The NPPD team worked 16-hour days with mandatory eight-hours of sleep while assigned to restoration duty.
In New Jersey, the team was initially housed in a tent with 200 cots. On November 7, they were relocated to Flemington, New Jersey. Once there, they moved into a semi-trailer converted into sleeping quarters.
John Humphrey, NPPD's transmission and distribution manager, said, "Our crews were very complimentary about the logistics and organization, with the exception of the fuel situation. When they fueled trucks they were limited to approximately 50 gallons per vehicle which was not enough to run all day."