Six Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities linemen headed for Rye, New York early Thursday morning to help restore power there after a second nor'easter in a week dumped more than 20 inches of snow on parts of the tri-state area, leaving more than 400,000 in the dark across the region Wednesday night.
The DPU linemen, manning three line trucks, left Orangeburg at 5 a.m.
"We are in rush hour-traffic in D.C.," DPU veteran lineman Mike Coats said when contacted by phone shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday.
He said the crew hoped to get to New York by nightfall.
"We got to get ready for work in the morning," he said.
Coats said the DPU crew has a total of almost 80 years of experience and most of its members have worked in a number of recovery efforts including ice storms and hurricanes.
"We pack for two weeks, but that is what we always do," he said. "We really don't know" how long the crew will be in New York.
DPU joined a number of other utilities across the state as part of the South Carolina Association of Municipal Power Systems Mutual Aid Agreement with the New York Power Authority.
SCAMPS coordinated a team of municipal line workers to travel to the designated staging area in Rye to assist Con Edison in its power restoration efforts.
The DPU linemen joined a caravan composed of Rock Hill, Union and Easley utility companies headed north to help.
DPU spokesman Randy Etters said DPU was most likely chosen to provide assistance because South Carolina was far enough out of the storm impact area to offer help.
According to news reports, the Rye area received nearly a foot of snowfall. Combined with gusts in the 40-mile-per-hour range, the winter storm resulted in widespread power outages.
Con Edison reported outages spiked to 35,000 overnight on Wednesday and more than 28,000 customers without power in Winchester County on Thursday,
The utility said it expects outages from both nor'easters to last into the weekend, noting a higher priority is being given to restoring power to those who lost electricity in the first nor’easter.