An Orangeburg engineering firm sent a team to help restore power in New York State following two winter storms.
About 12 employees of McCall-Thomas Engineering Company Inc. left for New York State on Tuesday, March 6 to help with power restoration.
Crews left Orangeburg at about 7 a.m. and reached Suffern, New York between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m., said Brett Banks, McCall-Thomas Engineering manager of field operations electric and UAS Divisions.
McCall-Thomas Engineering storm assessment crews ended up assisting the Orange and Rockland Utility Company in restoring power to residents who had been without electricity for nearly six days.
When they arrived, the Orangeburg crew was greeted with between 16 inches to 20 inches of a heavy and wet snow.
"Temperature-wise, it was not that bad," Banks said. High temperatures were in the 30s and with lows in the 20s.
But the South Carolinians were not used to the white stuff.
"We are not used to the wet, slushy snow that stays on the ground," he said. "They did a great job with the roads up there. The main roads were cleared pretty quickly. The secondary roads got pushed off, as it is anywhere."
Banks said crews were able to get around well despite the difficult conditions.
"Most of our vehicles have four-wheel drive," he said.
The employees were thankful it was a snow event, not an ice event.
Crews worked 16-hour days from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. A total of approximately 112 hours were worked during the seven-day period.
"I heard a couple of guys come out and say ‘thank you’ and ask you if you needed anything and wanting to help us," Banks said. He said it was a display of Northern hospitality.
Orange and Rockland Utility helped house the crew in a local hotel.
Banks said it was not the first time McCall-Thomas has responded to a weather incident. Crews have helped with recovery efforts with Hurricanes Katrina, Matthew and Irma.
"It is not our first rodeo," Banks said. The employees on the trip had more than 120 years of experience altogether.
Having experience is crucial when responding to such incidents.
"There is a safety aspect to it," Banks said.
For instance, crews have devices that tell if a line is energized or not, he said. “You have to be safety conscious when it comes to lines on the ground."