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Saturday, November 3, 2012 - Page updated at 07:00 p.m.

Local utility workers head to East Coast to help with hurricane relief

By Jennifer Sullivan
Seattle Times staff reporter

Local utility workers and volunteers from the American Red Cross of King, Kitsap and North Mason counties are being dispatched to the East Coast to help with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Fourteen Seattle City Light workers, including two five-person crews, two engineers, a supervisor and a safety expert, are traveling to Long Island, N.Y., over the weekend, said Suzanne Hartman, spokeswoman for City Light.

"We're sending them to the Long Island Power Authority. We made ourselves available," Hartman said.

City Light is working with Joint Base Lewis-McChord to get the workers and equipment to New York. The military was working on the logistics of transporting the workers, as well as two bucket trucks, "derrick diggers" and other equipment, Hartman said. Master Sgt. Todd Wivell, chief of public affairs for McChord Airfield, said they are waiting for their assignment from the Air Force. He said they would be flying a C-17 aircraft.

Hartman said the Long Island Power Authority requested City Light's help.

"In all honesty, it took them this long to assess what they're going to need. They had crews who were closer, but now with the magnitude of [what they're dealing with] they need the help," she said.

Neil Neroutsos from the Snohomish County PUD said they have sent crews to help Jersey Central Power & Light. Crews from Snohomish County, Clark County and Eugene, Ore., flew out of Portland on Thursday.

"They flew into Newark, and today they're being positioned out at Asbury Park, out on the coast," Neroutsos said. "They wanted us out there quickly."

Neroutsos said they sent two crews, a total of 11 workers, along with basic gear.

"They'll work 16 hours on and eight hours off, and they'll be out there for up to two weeks," Neroutsos added.

So far, 45 Red Cross volunteers from Western Washington have been sent to help. Volunteers will assist with shelter operations, running dining halls for people in need and helping people seeking health and mental-health services, according to a Red Cross spokeswoman.

Rachel Ramey, spokeswoman for the Seattle-area Red Cross, also suggested people donate to the Puget Sound Blood Center.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.

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