ONCOR Sending Crews To East Coast to Assist With Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

Josh Navarro
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- The super sized storm has garnered the attention of the country and now ONCOR utility crews from all over the state, including some here in the Basin, are heading to the east coast to assist with potential outages.

Even the local Red Cross is standing by to receive that phone call to dispatch volunteers to help those in need. As Red Cross volunteers wait to get their call, early Monday morning, about 120 ONCOR employees and contractors left for the Baltimore, Maryland area. This is part of their mutual assistance program to help other utilities in their time of need and sure enough this is one of those cases.

"This is going to be a several day event, maybe two or three days, that this storm is churning over this highly populated area that's never really seen a storm like this," Stormtracker 9 Meteorologist, Emily Borchard, said.

The damage is expected to be intense and bring long-term power outages but back up is on its way as dozens of ONCOR utility crews from across the state are headed to the East Coast.

"These 120 hard working men and woman are actually going up from the northeast across our service territory, not just here in Dallas," ONCOR Spokesperson, Kris Spears, said.

Workers are expected to stay there for about two weeks but they are also embracing the working weather conditions that Sandy may bring to the mainland.

"They're going prepared for cold weather because there is a Nor'easter headed to that region as well," Spears said.

"It's going to cause a lot of damage and a lot of people in this area are going to need help," Borchard said.

Over 100 Red Cross shelters are open for people who need them and the local chapter is ready with their emergency response vehicle to head out once they get that call for aid.

"We're just awaiting to see if they will need us. They have actually already lined up I believe 170 of these around the nation and ready to go. But at this time, they are not deploying anyone into the affected areas until the water levels reduce," Red Cross Executive Director, Stephanie Murphee, said.

ONCOR says they were asked to help out once the storm blows through from Baltimore Gas and Electric through their mutual assistance program and those heading over are mostly volunteers.

"There are people who are donating their time away from families being a 22 hour drive away from family for several weeks. These are hard working ONCOR men and women, sort of biting the bullet in order to help some customers that aren't even in our service territory," Spears said.

ONCOR also told NewsWest 9 that they're freeing up 60 additional contractors to help in Maryland and New York and some companies are talking about using aircraft to help quickly pinpoint problem areas.