Power crews on Katrina's heels - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Power crews on Katrina's heels

August 29, 2005

Thomasville, Georgia-- Fifty power crews from Virginia are leaving their pit stop in Thomasville to follow the heels of Hurricane Katrina. "Maybe it won't be torn up too badly yet, but I'm sure we're going to see some right rough stuff," says lineman, Phillip Burkholder.

Burkholder is ready to work 16 hour days, more if necessary. He's learned from other hurricanes, safety is his top priority. "We definitely want to get the power back on as soon as possible. But we don't want to get anyone hurt in the process," says Burkholder.

The crews left Virginia on Saturday, and they packed up to leave Thomasville on a moment's notice Monday afternoon. "We're going to be heading west, maybe Alabama or Mississippi. We haven't gotten the final word yet," says manager, John Haskins.

Given the weather and the road conditions, the crews don't know how long it will take them to get where they're going. But they do know that when they get there, they'll provide the backup other power crews so desperately need. "We'll just fall right in and be coordinated through the power company and start the restoring process," says Haskins.

That's a process their crews all along the Gulf Coast have already begun, hard work amid more difficult hardship. "A lot of people have a lot of devastation. They're going through a lot and you're trying to help them out," says Haskins. "Some of them don't have anything to go back to. At least we've got homes to go back to," adds Burkholder. When they'll return home though, the crews don't know.

One of the power crews' main concerns is keeping people away from downed lines. A line may still have a charge even if its lying still.

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