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Princeton crews provide aid in Sandy effort

PRINCETON — Four employees of the Princeton Electric Department have headed to the state of Ohio to help restore electric power to the victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Brad Snethen, Toby Lindeland, Joe Law and Kevin Amy left Princeton Tuesday morning and aren’t expected back for more than a week.

After slamming across the Caribbean during the weekend, Superstorm Sandy crashed into the eastern portion of the United States on Monday. As of Wednesday morning, at least 8 million people are without electric power in 15 states and the District of Columbus and at least 30 people in the U.S. had died. Towns and cities have been flooded, homes burned, public transit systems shut down and people stranded, with blizzard conditions in West Virginia.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Kevin Gaden, president and CEO of the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA), said the four Princeton linemen will join crews from Naperville and the Springfield City Water, Light and Power, also IMEA members, in the mutual aid effort.

In addition to the four linemen, Princeton has dispatched two bucket trucks to Cleveland, Ohio, while Springfield CWLP sent 12 linemen, a maintenance supervisor, four 55-foot boom bucket trucks and two digger derricks, Gaden said. The mutual aid crews are anticipated to assist with service restoration efforts in Ohio before heading to New Jersey and other affected areas as needed. Naperville has sent 12 linemen, materials and related equipment to other areas along the East Coat, Gaden said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent of Electric Jason Bird said the Illinois Municipal Utilities Association received the original call for assistance from First Energy Corp. of Akron Ohio., with the IMEA contacting its members, like Princeton, who have mutual aid agreements with the IMUA.

The Princeton crews have been initially told to expect to be gone at least through the end of next week, Bird said.

As far as managing with the four linemen and two trucks gone, Bird said he does have other linemen, plus other guys who could be pulled from other areas of the department if needed. Also in the case of a local emergency, the men on mutual aid could be called back to Princeton, Bird said.

When the call came for mutual aid, Bird said he started going down the employee list, asking the men if they wanted to volunteer to go. Five men volunteered, but Bird felt he could only spare four men at this time.

“I think it’s great that we have employees who are willing to help, to take the time away from their own families to help others,” Bird said. “It speaks very well for our employees.”

Bird said Princeton crews have gone on several other mutual aid calls, twice to the Springfield area for a tornado and then an ice storm, to southern Illinois after an ice storm, and to Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina struck.

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