(NEW YORK) — With concerns about hypothermia increasing — and another storm forecasted for next week — nearly 64,000 utility workers are now working around the clock to turn the power back on in a dozen states.
In remote areas of Appalachia, and from Ohio to New England, it’s been a race against time as temperatures drop into the 30s in places. Hypothermia or cold stress can strike anyone and can occur even in homes with temperatures in the lows 60s. It can also be deadly.
“It’s cold,” Elaine Collucio of Long Island, N.Y., said. “It’s dark.”
“We know this is a big deal,” said Michael Hervey of the Long Island Power Authority. “We know it’s cold out. We know we need to get lights on as quickly as we possibly can.”
Getting the lights on, however, means bringing in more than 40,000 workers from 49 of 50 states. In California, the Air Force began airlifting more than 60 utility vehicles to New York Thursday aboard large cargo planes. One crew takes about two hours to replace and repair one pole, meaning the team can’t fix more than a half-mile of power line in 24 hours.
Thursday night, workers from Alabama were helping out in hard-hit Atlantic City, N.J.
“Our crews really just, they understand the value of being able to serve others,” said Brian Lindsay of Alabama Power.
Immediately after the storm, more than eight million customers had no electricity. That number now has been cut down by half. A million get their power back each day — better than after Hurricane Irene.
On Long Island, one crew had been working 16-hour days repairing a downed line for powerless residents. The crew’s homes are also without electricity.
“I saw the trucks down the street,” said Lorelei Walton. “I said, ‘I hope they’re coming my way.’”
The crew was coming to help Walton and moments later, her lights were back on for the first time since Monday.
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