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Power crew lights up lives

After some of the nation’s most catastrophic storms have destroyed homes and cut off utilities, Denton Municipal Electric crews have responded in the time of need to restore power.

This year, after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, a team of 19 Denton employees — including certified journeymen, linemen and safety personnel and managers — spent two weeks in New York helping to restore electricity to the millions who had lost power as a result of the storm.

It is not the first time our crews have come to the rescue. Among several trips in recent years, Denton Municipal Electric sent 12 employees to Miami, Okla., in mid-December 2007 to help the city restore electric power, which was lost after ice storms swept through Oklahoma.

And local crews were there after Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans and surrounding parishes in September 2005.

The trips aren’t easy by a long shot. Crews often have to navigate debris-strewn streets, pack enough supplies to feed and clothe themselves at a time when many stores are not open or operable, and they often sleep in their trucks or makeshift shelters.

They’ve weathered wintry conditions and flood-ravaged areas on several occasions, but the trip to Long Island, N.Y., was likely the first time they had to deal with both situations on the same trip.

A nor’easter soon followed Hurricane Sandy, plunging soaked residents into yet another catastrophe, as large swaths of snow fell in the hard-hit areas.

Photos from the trip only partially depict the harsh conditions faced by our crews and the beleaguered residents along the East Coast.

Our crews wore multiple layers of clothing as they worked in the blizzard that blew snow sideways. And when they could take a break to clean up, they had to take turns using the single shower facility they could locate.

Several residents, despite their own hardships, showed their appreciation with gifts of doughnuts and hot coffee, free meals and heartfelt hugs.

We think they’re rather special, too, and are glad to know they are part of our community.

In fact, one of the crew is the son of one of our own.

It takes a lot of dedication to be willing to help others deal with such monumental challenges. And it isn’t easy to be away from family and friends, working in miserable and dangerous conditions, leaving those at home worried for their safety.

We want to offer our heartfelt and sincere appreciation to the crew of 19 and to Denton Municipal Electric for its willingness to be part of the solution by helping those in need.