NOTEBOOK: After the derecho, the cavalry came riding in bucket trucks
Out and about in Ankeny a few days after the derecho hit, I noticed a number of crews in Carolina Power trucks around town working on restoring my neighbors’ electricity. Seeing folks from that far away working on restoring our power made me wonder how many other states we should be thanking for helping Iowa to get juice flowing through our wires. Help came from nearly half of the states, as I learned.
MidAmerican Energy received assistance from more than 1,000 out-of-state utility workers in the days following the historic derecho on Aug. 10. Convoys of crews drove bucket trucks and other equipment to Iowa from 22 states, said Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the utility.
“The extent of damage has required a herculean response,” Greenwood said. MidAmerican has mutual assistance pacts with other utilities, and the company also responds when it can, he said. MidAmerican had recently sent more than 50 line workers to New York, for instance, to assist with Hurricane Isaias recovery before pulling them back to Iowa to respond to the derecho damage.
In addition to crews from the Midwest including Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kansas, electrical utilities and contractors also sent crews from as far away as New Jersey, Delaware, the Carolinas, Louisiana and Virginia, as well as Oregon, Nevada and Utah in the West. Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas also sent utilities crews.
Alliant, in similar fashion, received assistance from utility companies from about a dozen states as well as Canada, a company spokesman told me. And last week, MidAmerican Energy dispatched dozens of line crews — 60 linemen and 10 support employees and equipment — to eastern Iowa to assist Alliant with restoration efforts there.