Local power workers join hurricane recovery effort

PARKERSBURG — A 24-man crew from the Monongahela Power Co. with workers from Parkersburg, Sistersville and Harrisville is on its way to Sarasota, Fla., to help restore power to Floridians cleaning up from Hurricane Irma, a company spokesman said.

It will work with Florida Power and Light with thousands of other utility crews from FirstEnergy, the Mon Power parent company, and other utility companies across the Northeast, FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Meyers said. Crews from the South came to this region when the derecho hit in 2012 and during the paralyzing snow storm in the eastern part of the state, he said.

Hurricane Irma came upon the Florida shore this weekend as a Category 4 storm. More than 6 million customers were without electricity.

The crew left Saturday morning for Columbia, S.C., then headed to a staging area near Lake City, Fla., Meyers said. From there, the crew is bound for the Sarasota area and work under the direction of Florida Power and Light, he said.

The plan is for the team to remain in Florida for two weeks, working 16 hours on and 8 hours off every day, he said. At the end of two weeks, another crew may be dispatched to replace them and the equipment may remain for the second crew, Meyers said.

Mon Power s sent seven bucket trucks and two digger-derrick trucks, which with the use of a large auger can dig the holes to set the utility poles, Meyers said.

“It’s an essential piece of equipment,” he said.

All 10 FirstEnergy utility companies from Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland have sent about 900 linemen, damage assessors, electrical contractors, foresters and support personnel to Florida to help utilities in Florida with restoration efforts following expected power outages from Hurricane Irma.

Crews were sent from Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison in Ohio; Penelec, Penn Power, West Penn Power and Met-Ed in Pennsylvania; Mon Power in West Virginia; Potomac Edison in West Virginia and Maryland; and Jersey Central Power & Light in New Jersey. Support personnel from FirstEnergy’s corporate offices are included in the company’s contingent.