City electric crews help after hurricane
LaGRANGE – Employees from the Electric Division of the City of LaGrange did their part to help communities affected byHurricane Matthew earlier this month.
Johnny Blakley, Josh Bryant and Alan Potter traveled to to Gainesville and Vero Beach, Fla., to perform repairs and restore power to the coast.
“There were a lot of services down,” said Superintendent Jay Bartlett, of the city electric division. “The primary overhead high voltage lines were down due to the storm, and they were reinstalling overhead conductors. …They were replacing poles and transformers, and of course all of the hardware involved in distribution.”
The damage from Hurricane Matthew affected cities up and down the coast, forcing many communities to go without power. Electric Cities of Georgia, a group that provides strategic and technical services to communities with utility operations, sent 87 people and 30 pieces of equipment to help get the lights back on, according to Bartlett. Three of those men and two of those trucks were from LaGrange.
“Whenever there is any kind of natural disaster we work together,” said Patrick Bowie, director of Utilities for the city of LaGrange. “Municipalities tend to be small, but collectively we can get a lot done.”
Bowie pointed out that many times municipalities are too small to deal with large disasters on their own, so working together helps all the cities involved.
“Each city, if they have utilities – or electric utilities especially – dispatch those crews if they’ve got people to send,” said Bartlett. “… I’ve been with the city almost 23 years, and we’ve been going to storms since 1996. Whenever there is someone in need, we go help, and vice versa. If we need help, they’ll come help us. It’s a good group. We help each other throughout the state, and we’ve been to North Carolina, Connecticut, and of course Florida.”
The group from LaGrange worked 16-hour days to restore power to the area. Bartlett emphasized that it is important to help other cities that have faced harsh weather because of the relationship that it builds between communities.
“We may need help at one time,” said Bartlett. “When Hurricane Opal hit, we had people from all over the southeast come and help us. … If you send help, you can ask for help. … It is just the right thing to do.”