CPS Energy storm team returns after supporting Hurricane Sandy relief

Crews worked through blizzard, restored power to thousands

SAN ANTONIO - With the Texas flag proudly waving from atop the lead vehicle, a convoy of CPS Energy trucks returned to the East side Service Center Monday night 14 days after leaving to support the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.

Seven-year-old Logan Stuman could barely contain his excitement when he spotted his daddy waving from one of the trucks.

"I missed him so much, now I can tell him how I was good in school," Stuman said as he waited with his mom and younger brother who took his first steps while their dad was gone.

The CPS storm team made the 18-hundred mile trip to New Jersey where they were quickly put to work repairing a power substation owned by Jersey Central Power and Light. The power station was coincidentally located on Texas Road in Old Bridge, New Jersey. The team's repair helped restore power to nearly 10-thousand customers.

"Most of the people we ran into were very grateful to see us, of course they called us the Texas boys," said storm team leader Eric Fassett.

Fassett and his team of 50 power restoration and support crews were there to help restore power to the hurricane ravaged area that left an estimated 1.2 million customers without power.

"It was good to see smiles on people’s faces but at the same time we left some people without lights so it's tough but it's good to be home," said CPS worker Ryan Whitehair.

While many of the CPS worker are veterans of past Hurricane relief efforts - including Katrina, Rita and Ike - they faced some unique challenges on this trip including working in several inches of snow that was dumped by a second storm that hit the region.

"I'm not used to that," said Whitehair. "I'm from the South and I plan on staying in the South."

That snow storm hit after the crew had already restored power to 95 percent of the area they were working in. When it ended the lines were down again.

Fassett said his guys didn't let a little bad weather slow them down.

"Most of the stuff we had put up, the next day it was down again due to the trees," Fassett said. "The station we were working out of was amazed that our crews continued to work through the storm. They worked in the blizzard and probably will never do it again in their lives."

While CPS Energy has sent crews to storm ravaged areas in the Gulf Coast since 2004, Hurricane Sandy marked the first restoration in the North on the East Coast.

IMAGES: CPS Energy crews return home from Super Storm duties

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.


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