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NIPSCO crews depart an operating station during the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)
Utilities send help to East Coast

Posted on Nov. 8, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 9, 2012 at 3:12 p.m.

About 80 workers from NIPSCO remain on the East Coast, helping with recovery efforts from Superstorm Sandy.

The power company sent volunteer crews to help restore power in areas devastated last week after Sandy left 8.2 million people in 20 states in the dark.

Most I&M employees who joined the recovery force served in West Virginia but additional workers arrived in New York and New Jersey last week. Most of the workers in those areas specialize in underground network power systems, said I&M spokesman David Mayne.

Although NIPSCO did not immediately send workers East, they ended up sending a crew of 80 to Cleveland last Thursday. That crew has now moved to New Jersey, where damage is more extensive.

“People don’t realize how damage from the storm went so far inland,” said NIPSCO spokeswoman Kathleen Szot.

NIPSCO volunteers are aiding FirstEnergy, a utility company that serves areas hit by the hurricane that made landfall early last week. At the peak, FirstEnergy had 2.2 million customers without power.

The workers helped with patrolling lines, surveying damage, repairing broken poles and fixing downed power lines. In addition to NIPSCO crews, the company released outside resources from electric line and tree trimming contractors to provide extra support.

Approximately 6,000 NIPSCO customers were without power due to the inland effects of the hurricane, and most customers had power restored within 24 hours. The company prepared for possible effects to northern Indiana by scheduling additional work crews and staff members out on the roads and at the customer call center.