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Xcel Workers Head East To Help ‘Sandy’ Victims

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Power crews from the Twin Cities are on their way to the east coast to help restore power in West Virginia.

That’s where heavy snow knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes. About three dozen workers with Xcel Energy out of Minnesota and a handful more from Wisconsin are in route to an area just south of Charleston, West Virginia.

The crew is made up of linemen, safety workers and mechanics, and they’re heading into what could be one of the most challenging situations they’ve faced.

Superstorm Sandy did more than blanket parts of West Virginia in snow. The worst areas were hit with two to four feet of wet, heavy snow that downed trees and power lines, and caused nearly 300,000 power outages.

“We’re being deployed in these areas to work in these conditions because our crews are very experienced in working in treacherous conditions,” said Mike Boland with the Xcel Energy Emergency Response team.

The electric company out east called on Xcel Energy to send help from Minnesota. Workers arrived early Wednesday morning at the substation in Newport to gas up and gather their equipment for the 900-mile journey out east.

“We just get there and deal with whatever comes our way,” said Xcel worker Dan McIntyre.

McIntre will be working in challenging conditions, mountainous terrain south of Charleston, where there is two feet of snow and 65,000 homes and businesses are without power.

“You get to go do something that helps out a boat load of people. We’ve been in Florida, we were out in New York last year and people are pretty thankful when you get the lights back on and the heat starts rolling and that’s kind of a nice feeling,” said Boland.

Xcel Energy is also sending crews from Colorado and Texas. The workers could be gone for up to two weeks.

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