Joplin crews still working after 2017 disasters

As 2017 comes to a close, some of the most memorable events begin with tragedy. 

We've had three major hurricanes affect the United States this year. We've faced Irma, Harvey and Maria, which all took a lot of recovery effort. But I spoke with one Joplin crew whose work is still far from being over with the new year.

Joplin linemen haven't gotten much of a break this year.

"They could be doing anything from digging holes and setting poles, to just putting up wire on poles that managed to stay in the air,” says Reed Miller, BBC Electric Project Manager.

Major hurricanes kept hundreds of crew members from BBC Electric and Empire District outside of Missouri for weeks or months.

"It's a lot to handle, it's a lot of moving parts, a lot of pieces to fit together. Responding to those disasters as well as keeping our current customers happy, because things are still going on here in the Midwest,” says Reed Miller.

And while most crews have filtered out of Florida and Texas, Eric Jack and 100 BBC line-men are still busy in the Virgin Islands.

"Compared to Florida, where you had you know over 10-thousand lineman and equipment, where here you've got all this damage and it's just us. We're the only contractor on this island working,” says Eric Jack.

Many of those crew members jumping from one disaster to the next. But the chaos has challenged them to improve.

"The angle of the slopes on some of those hillsides in the Virgin Islands are dramatically different from what they've seen here and so they have to adapt on the fly and just figure out how to get it done in the field,” says Reed Miller.

And the islanders, always doing their part to show their appreciation.

"They're so grateful to our guys down there, they've thrown them a Thanksgiving celebration, a Christmas celebration to make them feel you know kind of a little sense of community down there since they are away from their families helping them get back up and going over the holidays,” says Reed Miller.

"It'd already been 40 days without power and these people were so excited just to see somebody come to this island. They said in previous hurricanes they've been up to 9 months without power, and we're going to have them all with power within three months,” says Eric Jack.

This year has been overwhelming to say the least but good to see that our local line-men have only grown better at their jobs.


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