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The Journal Gazette

  • A mobile home rests Tuesday on its side in Cudjoe Key, Fla., where Hurricane Irma damaged numerous structures. More on Irma, Page 3A. (Associated Press)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 1:00 am

75 more from I&M to join recovery effort

Paulding co-op also to aid in Georgia

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Restoration efforts in hurricane-damaged states are continuing to get a boost from contractors, including Indiana Michigan Power and others with ties to the northeast Indiana area.

I&M said Tuesday it is sending about 75 additional employees and contractors to storm-ravaged Florida and Georgia, bringing to more than 350 the number of employees and contractors the utility company is contributing to the restoration effort.

“Most of those included in the new deployment are foresters who are going to Georgia to help clear trees, branches and other vegetation from electric equipment and rights of way,” I&M said in a news release. “Most of those previously deployed are foresters and line workers working to restore power in Florida.”

The announcement came a day after two Fort Wayne-area utility cooperatives – Northeastern REMC and Heartland REMC – said they were sending linemen to Georgia after the damage Hurricane Irma began ushering in during the weekend.

On Tuesday, Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative in Ohio said it was sending crews and equipment to assist in recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma, which has left several million customers without power.

Four Paulding Putnam linemen will be assisting in Camilla, Georgia, and are expected to be gone at least 10 days.

“We take care of needs at home first, but our crews are eager to help those in need,” operations manager Ted Slusser said in a statement. “They take tremendous pride in representing Paulding Putnam Electric. They will represent us well with how hard, professionally and safely they work.”

Ohio Electric Cooperative, Paulding Putnam Electric's statewide organization, is spearheading the efforts to send in line workers from all over the state. Paulding Putnam employees are also collecting nonperishable food items they hope will fill a semitrailer to help those affected. 

The deployments mean long work days. I&M said line and forestry crews from throughout the utility's service territory will work 16-hour days to help turn the lights back on. It was unclear how long they would be assisting. A two-week deployment is typical, but some crews could remain longer, and some returning crews could be exchanged with additional employees and contractors, I&M said.

More than 30 of the utility's employees recently returned from Texas after helping restore power outages after Hurricane Harvey ripped through the South.