The quick response and hard work of five men from Midway Power Line Services Ltd. in Sechelt has made them heroes to many in Long Island, New York.
The devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast Oct. 29, left thousands cold and in the dark as they waited for their power to be restored.
The local power companies lacked enough employees and equipment to restore all the downed lines and fix all the electrical issues, so they called for help. Along with many others, a crew from Midway Power Line Services Ltd. came to their aid.
The company got the call for help at 8 a.m. on Nov. 2, and by 11 p.m. that night a five-man crew was driving across the border with three bucket trucks. The men took turns sleeping and driving so they wouldn’t lose any time, and within 74 hours they were on scene in New York.
After a day waiting to see if an ice storm would hit, the crew was dispatched to Long Island to help New Yorkers there who had been without power for over a week.
The next two weeks were a bit of a blur for the team, who worked 16-hour days, according to teammate Dustin Seabrook.
“There was just so much going on,” Seabrook said, explaining the scene that he, Ben Bailey, Colin MacLeod, Karl Nicholas and Allan Rae encountered. “There were sagging wires, broken poles, wires down, services ripped off houses. We were basically rebuilding their entire system.”
While the men were tasked to certain homes, they were often flagged down by others who were desperate to have their power restored.
“A lot of guys got guided around, but they ran out of those people for us, so we were able to drive to a call and if people came out we were able to help them, to ask what the problem was and fix it,” Seabrook said. “One elderly lady came out and she said, ‘I always wondered if I’d see God before I passed on. I never knew he’d come in the form of Canadians.’ We couldn’t believe it. They were just so happy for the help.”
The team had many glowing reports from thankful New Yorkers, including one man who emailed their boss to say they went above and beyond to restore his power after 14 days in the dark.
“If it wasn’t for your excellent workers, who knows when, if at all we would have gotten power back? Just wanted to thank you for sending your men to help out. Thank you to your company, and especially thank you to these five fine men,” he wrote.
It wasn’t unusual to be thanked in person with gifts from grateful citizens while the crew was working.
“As soon as they’d see us they’d run to the store and come out with hot coffee or goodies,” Seabrook said. “It was overwhelming. They were so grateful. Everybody was saying the Canadians were their heroes.”
The team finished the work they were assigned and returned home on Nov. 14 after helping thousands get their power back on.
Owners of Midway Power Line Services, Lance and Bruce Seabrook, are proud of the men who took time away from their families to help the people of New York.
“We’d just like to say thanks to them for going down there. It’s a little above and beyond what we typically do, but also on that note, at any time around here the phone can ring, too. Even at 2 a.m. on the ugliest night of the year, the guys are ready and willing to go out,” Lance said.
Midway Power Line Services Ltd. is a local electrical contractor serving industrial, commercial and residential clients on the Coast and throughout southwestern B.C.