Matt Aberle of Green Mountain Power made some new friends while restoring power on Staten Island, N.Y. (submitted photo)
Matt Aberle of Green Mountain Power made some new friends while restoring power on Staten Island, N.Y. (submitted photo)
Saturday November 10, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- Green Mountain Power doesn't only help storm victims in New England.

"We have sent approximately 50 percent of our available bucket trucks and staff down to Connecticut and utilities to New York and New Jersey to help in restoration efforts," said Donna LaScaleia, Green Mountain Power operations supervisor in Brattleboro. "As soon as we got everyone here taken care of last Thursday, they left and have been in Connecticut since."

There are eight Green Mountain Power districts within the state. LaScaleia covers the Brattleboro and Wilmington area, which ranges from Readsboro to Wardsboro. Each district deployed staff to Connecticut to help in restoration efforts.

Five linemen from the Brattleboro district went to Connecticut to assist other utilities workers.

"The response from people there has been incredibly heartwarming," Dorothy Schnure, spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power, wrote in an e-mail to the Reformer. "One crew walked into a restaurant only to have it erupt in applause, and the crews were showered with cookies, coffee and other tokens of appreciation. They work long, hard hours, but find it very satisfying."

Storms in Vermont in the past, such as Tropical Storm Irene and recent ice storms, have helped keep utilities workers ready for anything, LaScaleia said.

She also pointed out how these workers recognize urgency and cooperation between different utilities groups in the face of storms that cause such significant damage.

Green Mountain Power had 130 separate events that required their assistance in LaScaleia's district during Sandy. All of the issues were resolved within 48 hours.

"Everything becomes multiplied in these storms," LaScaleia said.

In Vermont, utilities issues included broken poles, trees falling on lines, snapped poles, and difficulty getting through wooded area where power lines had been damaged.

In Connecticut, crews were setting up new poles, rebuilding the overhead lines, reattaching services to houses, and replacing damaged transformers.

The snow during the Nor'easter didn't help with progress in Connecticut. Some work had to be redone after the snow came.

"There's definitely a real sense of pride in what these guys do and how they do it," LaScaleia said. "And you know, the bottom line for us and any utilities group is we want to work safely, quickly, and efficiently when the lights go out, whether it's in Brattleboro, Connecticut, or New York. Wherever it is."

Line crews have left Connecticut and have gone to Staten Island for at least a few more days, Schnure said.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com