JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - JEA was sending 32 employees to the Northeast Friday morning to relieve other workers helping with cleanup efforts after Superstorm Sandy.
The crew left JEA's Westside service center about 6 a.m. Friday on a chartered bus to Long Island. They will relieve workers who have been up there since October 29.
"This is what we call mutual aid. Surely if we had experienced Sandy or any storm to the degree they have, we would have crews coming here to help us. This is what these guys do. We go, we help other utilities get their power back on as safely and quickly as possible," said Gerri Boyce, spokesperson for JEA.
Nearly 700,000 customers are still without power in the Northeast, after a nor'easter added to their problems. In Long Island neighborhoods, people are frustrated because the utility company is requiring them to have their own inspections done in their homes before they will restore power.
"For me and the rest of the guys, mutual aid is what we do. This is our bread and butter. We're all about restoring lights for people, getting their electricity and heat back on for them. This means the world for us," said Richard Kellogg, a JEA worker who left Friday morning.
The departing crew consists of workers who volunteered to go up north.
"These guys are the calvary. They put their life in harm's way every day to help everyone have power and in this case, heat specifically. It takes a very special person to want to do this job," said Boyce.
JEA will be reimbursed by the utility company it's helping, according to Boyce.
The JEA crew already in New York should be returning to Jacksonville in the next few days. There are no hotels available there so the employees have been sleeping in JEA trucks.
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