Crews from Dakota Energy Cooperative in Huron and Sioux Valley Energy in Colman returned to South Dakota Friday morning (Nov. 16), two weeks after they departed the state for New York’s Long Island to assist with power restoration efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Dakota Energy Cooperative sent two employees – Robert Feldhaus of Huron and Brandon Moore of Miller – while Sioux Valley Energy sent four workers: Steve Neises, Chad Collins, Bob Johnson and Elliot Ostercamp. The crews assisted with repairs in residential areas served by Long Island Power Authority and were among more than 11,000 electric utility workers who descended on the New York/New Jersey area to help restore power.
“The people were very friendly towards us. We went hoping to help people get their lives back to normal. It was a great experience,” stated Journeyman Lineman Robert Feldhaus.
While in New York, the men stayed in a man camp provided by FEMA after working 16-hour days, seven days a week, repairing power lines.
“The biggest problem was the sheer volume of downed trees which made restoration of power much more difficult,” said Feldhaus.
While national headlines focus on New Yorkers’ frustration with the storm’s aftermath, two families from East Northport, N.Y., wanted the cooperative to know how thankful they were for the assistance of the South Dakota line workers.
Nancy and Nick Bazzicalupo, East Northport, N.Y., were surrounded by neighbors whose power had been restored while their home remained dark. The couple was awaiting their private electrician to reattach electric service to their house, but until the repairs were made, they were in limbo.
“On Thursday morning, I flagged down a Sioux Valley truck passing by and told the driver our sad tale…and that our electrician would be coming in a little while. They decided that the best way to help would be to reattach our wires to the pole, and shut down power in the area, then come back to turn on power once our electrician was done. They needed to go elsewhere to do work, meanwhile. Once our electrician finished, he discovered that the line was at least four feet too short because of the placement of the new pole. Sioux Valley and Dakota Energy workers came back and spliced in enough new line to make the connection, and we got power back after ten long days and nights. They all laughed when I said that it was the first time I had ever seen angels dressed in fluorescent green! We just wanted you to know that we found your employees to be ultra polite and caring men, as well as great workers. You should be very proud of them, indeed!” The Bazzicalupo’s wrote in an e-mail to Dakota Energy Cooperative.
Another area resident had earlier visited South Dakota and was eager to share photos of the South Dakota workers with the cooperative.
“I have a few images of your crew working on a line in front of my house in East Northport, Long Island, N.Y., that I would like to forward to you along with my thanks for restoring my power after 12 days without power and heat. I visited and enjoyed South Dakota in 2011 and this is the second time that I have been impressed with the people of that area. Thanks Again,” wrote George Morrish.
“All of us at Dakota Energy are concerned for the well being of those affected by the storm on the East Coast. We are proud to have the opportunity to do whatever was necessary to help restore power to get their lives back to some sense of normalcy,” said Ken Gates, CEO/General Manager of Dakota Energy.