Thursday, November 1, 2012
Dallasites deploy for Sandy disaster relief
Collin Creek Mall is hosting a blood drive November 10 and 11.
Oncor energy provider and the American Red Cross DFW Chapter mobilized this week to help restore areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Approximately 60 Oncor employees departed for Baltimore, Md., on Monday and were expected to begin work on Wednesday to help Baltimore Gas & Electric reestablish what could be hundreds of thousands of outages caused by the catastrophic "Frankenstorm."
Oncor also released 50 contractors to assist BG&E, and 10 contractors to assist Con Edison of New York.
"Oncor has talked with our mutual assistance partners at BG&E and will send crews to assist with what they are expecting could be a lengthy restoration in their service area," said Oncor Vice President of Distribution Operations Keith Hull in a release. "Our first priority is our own customers, but after determining that we are able to send crews, we are more than willing to help other utilities restore power as quickly and safely as we can to those in need."
Approximately 8 million customers were in the dark on Tuesday morning due to Sandy, according to the Weather Channel. In some areas, power failures were nearly total.
Oncor is a member of several mutual assistance groups of utilities that allow for the sharing of resources and manpower in the event of a natural disaster.
Crews remained on schedule as they made the 22-hour drive, staying overnight in Nashville, Tenn. and Harrisburg, Va. along the way, Oncor spokesman Kris Spears said. Spears, who was embedded with Oncor crews when they were sent to Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, said these employees are volunteers who go under the assumption that there's going to be difficult work ahead of them.
"In the case of the Isaac restoration, we were drawn over the Fourth of July weekend," Spears said. "It's rough when you're away from family, but it's really a testament to our employees."
There's also no way to know exactly what they will encounter until they get there and until the rain has subsided, Spears said. With big bucket trucks and all the equipment they need, responders are expecting to stay on the scene for up to 14 days, he said.
"It's always really great to see people lined up along the street and are applauding when they see the trucks," he said. "Some of the people have been out [of electricity] for days on end."
Facing the aftermath of a hurricane wrapped in a nor'easter, workers also went prepared to handle frigid temperatures and floodways, Spears said. With all the standing water, power poles will more than likely need to be reset or replaced, he said. Potential frost and ice can also cause broken trees, fallen limbs on lines.
"That's really going to be one of the biggest challenges of this storm," Spears said. "They might have transformers on the ground and lines on the ground. The extent of the work depends on the amount of damage that's been done."
The Red Cross DFW Chapter deployed eight relief workers to the New Jersey/New York area last weekend to prepare for Sandy before it made landfall. The volunteers joined 1,300 workers from across the country who deployed with food trucks and supplies for the disaster relief organization.
Anita Foster was pacing the floor on Tuesday, coordinating with others who were also ready to go once flights into the area resumed.
"These are volunteers who have been with the organization and have taken high levels of training, they take some serious responsibility when they get deployed to these disasters," said Foster, public information officer for the chapter. "It's going to be tough for today; we have volunteers ready to go, but we have to wait."
On Monday night, 258 Red Cross shelters were opened in 16 northeastern states, housing approximately 11,000 displaced residents, a number that Foster said she only expects to get higher.
"It's going to be a long recovery," Foster said. "Just looking at the images coming over, there's going to be a staggering amount of damage and amount of time to recover."
In addition to food, shelter and supplies, the Red Cross is also looking for blood donors to help supplement lost donations from the hurricane. So far, 250 blood drives have been cancelled in the Northeast, Foster said.
"That will amount to thousands of pints of blood that won't be contributed," she said. "Those of us that are in areas that aren't impacted can make a donation to help keep the blood supply stable while folks in the Northeast clear debris and get their lives back in order."
To help the cause, Collin Creek Mall is hosting a blood drive November 10 and 11 from noon to 4 p.m. The donation station will be on the lower level by Dillard's across from the play area.
To qualify as a donor, individuals must be healthy, at least 17 years old or 16 with parental consent, and weigh at least 110 pounds. To make an appointment, visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
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