Local crews help with Sandy disaster relief

Local crews help with Sandy disaster relief

Posted:
Ten linemen and six trucks left the Appalachian Electric Cooperative in Jefferson County on Sunday to help around Chesapeake Bay. Ten linemen and six trucks left the Appalachian Electric Cooperative in Jefferson County on Sunday to help around Chesapeake Bay.
Ten people remained on stand-by, like Powell native Louie Keeling. Ten people remained on stand-by, like Powell native Louie Keeling.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - As residents across the East Coast cope with the damage in Hurricane Sandy's wake, a number of East Tennesseans have headed northeast to lend a hand.

Twelve East Tennessee Red Cross volunteers are helping out in storm-ravaged areas.

"We spent a lot of time deploying our vehicles and different states from Maryland to New York, so they can work in shelters," said Mary Beth Birge with the Knoxville Chapter of the American Red Cross.  

Maryville native Pete O'Neil has been helping with Red Cross relief efforts.

"There were trees down and limbs down all over the road," O'Neil said.  

O'Neil was staged outside of a high school in Dutchess County, New York, about two hours north of New York City. He expects to stay there for the next three to four weeks.  

"Whatever we need it, we help our neighbors. We'll do what we have to do to survive," said O'Neil.  

The Red Cross is training more volunteers to help with Sandy. Ten people remained on stand-by, like Powell native Louie Keeling. 

"It's a very large disaster that's affected a lot of people. It's a way of using the training and skills I have to help those people," Keeling said.

Utility companies all over Tennessee are helping their counterparts in Virginia.

Ten linemen and six trucks left the Appalachian Electric Cooperative in Jefferson County on Sunday to help around Chesapeake Bay.

"They're seeing a lot of polls down, lines down and that's what they're doing today. These are construction crews. They are five-man crews. They are going in and putting poles in and putting wires up," Joe McCarter with the Appalachian Electric Cooperative said.  

Officials estimate there are around 60 workers from East Tennessee electric cooperatives that are helping in Virginia.  

The help is provided because of mutual aid agreements between statewide electric cooperatives in Virginia and Tennessee.  

"Our guys were willing to go up there and give them the help," said McCarter.

The Red Cross expects volunteers to eventually move to Pennsylvania and West Virginia along the storm's path.   

Ambulance company American Medical Response also sent four McMinn County paramedics to Atlanta to drive ambulances up to Fort Dix military base in New Jersey.

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