IID crews prepare to head east to help in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Sandy

EL CENTRO – About 30 Imperial Irrigation District energy employees are packing and preparing to travel to the east coast to help restore power in areas that have been damaged by Tropical Storm Sandy.

News reports estimate that more than seven million people were without power and that significant damage has been done to the electric distribution systems in New York, New Jersey and other eastern states.

IID is sending six line construction crews to help replace poles and restring wire-about half of its line construction personnel. They expect to be deployed for about two weeks.

“We are proud to be a part of the power restoration effort by sending experienced and dedicated IID employees to help those who were affected by Tropical Storm Sandy,” said Mario Escalera, interim deputy manager, Energy Department. “Our employees are pleased to have the opportunity to help even though it means long days and significant time away from their families. We hope our efforts will assist those communities in getting back to normal as soon as possible.”

IID is sending three crews each from its Imperial and La Quinta divisions, two line superintendents and a safety work practices technician. They are expected to depart sometime today, possibly by military aircraft. Escalera said it is unknown, exactly, where the crews will first be put to work, but suggested they may “leap frog” across the country, starting in some Midwestern states as they head east.

Escalera said the temporary loan of mutual assistance crews will not hamper IID’s ability to meet its customers’ needs. During the mutual assistance effort, the district will shift its resources so that things get taken care of on the home front.

IID is a reporting agency to the California Emergency Management Agency through its participation with the California Utilities Emergency Association. The group’s members and counterparts throughout the country often call on one another to help in restoration efforts after major events such as winter storms.