By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
With Hurricane Irma leaving most of Florida in the dark, cities across the nation are sending down electric workers to lend a hand.
The city of Bowling Green sent three linemen – Trent Tyson, Randy McBride and Tim Brubaker – to the Tallahassee, Florida, area to help get power back to the region.
The three men are planning to work in Florida for a week to 10 days.
“We’ll see how that goes,” said Brian O’Connell, director of Bowling Green’s public utilities. “If they need more help, we may send another crew down to help.”
Though the three linemen are acquainted with the work, they are expecting this to be unlike any disasters they have encountered up here.
“There are just piles of debris everywhere,” O’Connell said – including power poles that are scattered around like pick-up sticks. “This is a much larger scale, and they’re not familiar with the system.”
After cleaning up the torn down lines and poles, then new ones must be installed.
“It’s just a major endeavor,” O’Connell said.
Three years ago, Bowling Green needed help from other communities when a strong line of winds knocked down power poles along Dunbridge Road on the east side of the city.
Like Bowling Green, Tallahassee is a member of the American Public Power Association. When one member is in trouble, others respond, O’Connell explained.
“It’s a fairly common practice in the industry,” he said. “We just needed to keep enough people back to make sure we’re covered.”
The linemen will help with reconstruction, by first taking care of down trees and power lines, and repairing broken transformers. It is specialized work that requires electrical expertise.
“They need bodies who know how to put stuff back together,” O’Connell said.
Bowling Green’s employees and the two city trucks are waiting in Alabama until the storm finishes its path through Tallahassee. They traveled in a convoy of regional community linemen who met up in the Wapakoneta area.
The host community will reimburse Bowling Green for its time and expenses. The linemen, who will be paid for their time, have to volunteer for the job.
“We’re fortunate we have guys like this,” O’Connell said of the linemen.