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Kentucky electric workers travel to Alabama to help with power restoration

Posted at 11:24 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 23:24:22-04

(LEX 18) — As the sun came up Thursday, workers with Kentucky Electric Cooperatives packed their trucks to prepare for a deployment to help restore power in southern Alabama.

As part of a massive effort involving cooperatives from multiple states, 85 Kentucky workers will be tasked with joining the effort to restore power to about 79,000 customers without power in the Gulf Shores area.

“It’s total devastation,” said Charlie Lewis, a safety instructor with Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, relaying what he’s been told by crews on the ground.

“[There are] a lot of bridges out, a lot of roads out,” Lewis said. “It’s gonna be a slow-go.”

Lewis, who oversaw the deployment, spoke to LEX 18 News via Zoom from his home Thursday.

He explained that before the efforts to restore power can get underway, workers will need at least a couple days to reach areas devastated by Hurricane Sally.

“These guys are going into a situation where they will be working long hours,” Lewis said. “Sixteen hours a day and in really tough conditions, in an area where they don't know the line feeds, they don't understand the system they're working on, so safety becomes even more critical.”

On top of that, workers have to be cognizant of the constraints caused by the pandemic. Physical distancing and half-capacity housing are just some of the new realities that are a part of responding to a storm.

"Eighty-five personnel deploying in the middle of a pandemic--to me, that just shows how much they want to help,” Lewis said.