Jon Carrick, a lineman with Clintonville Utilities, recently traveled to the East Coast to assist with hurricane relief efforts.
“I really wanted to go help the people that were in need,” said Carrick. “I found out I was going on Saturday afternoon, and we left early Sunday morning (Nov. 4).”
The trip lasted nine days, though it was originally scheduled to take 10 days.
“I traveled east with a utility worker from Stoughton, Wis.,” Carrick explained. “It took about 20 hours. We arrived in Blakeslee, Pa. That was our staging area – we got our orders there, and after three days we headed to New Jersey.”
Originally, Carrick had been told he would be traveling to Long Island, New York, where he would live in a tent and sleep on a cot during the duration of the trip. As it turned out, more help was needed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and Carrick was able to stay at hotels during the trip.
“We worked in six different cities in New Jersey over the course of the six days we spent there,” said Carrick. “In the morning, we were on the road by 6 a.m. We usually didn’t get back to our hotel until 10 p.m. We ate when we could. We worked long, tiring hours, but it was definitely worth it.”
Carrick said on smaller jobs, he worked with his partner from Stoughton. On larger jobs, three or four bucket truck crews would be on scene. The crews did the majority of their work for the PA Power and Light and Jersey Central companies.
“We saw crews from Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, and even some from Los Angeles,” said Carrick. A total of 15 Municipal Electric Utility of Wisconsin (MEUW) member cities sent crews to the east coast, including Cedarburg, Clintonville, Elroy, Hartford, Kaukauna, Marshfield, Menasha, New Richmond, Oconomowoc, River Falls, Rice Lake, Shawano, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, and Wisconsin Rapids.
“Many people would still be without power if not for the help from utility workers in other states,” commented Carrick. “We restored power to one couple’s home, and they said they had been without power for 11 days – and we were the first utility crew they had seen.
“Some people had generators to keep their furnace and refrigerator running. Many of them had already spent $600 in gas just to keep the generators going,” added Carrick.
Carrick described a scene of downed trees, snapped power poles, and downed power lines.
“There were trees down everywhere,” he said. “Power lines and poles had come down when the trees fell on them. There was no electrical service to the houses. We spent much of our time cutting power lines and untangling them from the trees. We then spliced them back together and re-hung them. In other cases, we cut up and moved the downed trees and re-hung the wire that the trees had ripped down.”
Carrick said the areas he worked in didn’t have flooding problems – just lots of downed trees and heavily damaged electrical infrastructure.
“People out there were so thankful for the help,” said Carrick. “It was so nice to see people waving and giving us a ‘thumbs up’ everywhere we went. People were super nice and thanked us immensely. That gave me a really good feeling, and it made the trip worthwhile to know how appreciative those people are.
“One lady was sobbing as she gave us hugs and thanked us for helping to restore power to her home,” stated Carrick. “Everyone was just so thankful.”
Carrick’s trip, originally scheduled to last 10 days, was complete in nine days because they finished early.
“I absolutely would do it again,” Carrick said. “If we ever have a catastrophe in our area, I would hope that other communities would come and help us out as well.”
Carrick said he appreciated all the support from the City of Clintonville, Clintonville Utilities, Mayor Judy Magee, City Administrator Lisa Kuss, and the citizens of Clintonville.
“The community was so supportive of me making this trip,” he said. “I am very thankful for their support, and I thank the community for allowing me to go.”