AEP Tackles Repowering Rural Areas - - ABC13

AEP Tackles Repowering Rural Areas


Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Dan Heffner

Lynchburg, VA - The storm cleanup is being fought on two fronts - in the city and in the country. Both are challenging with power crews facing unique obstacles in each. AEP is tackling the two fronts in two different ways.

AEP Engineer Technician Chris Walker says just Wednesday morning, he surveyed 60 miles of power line. That's a lot of ground to cover, and he couldn't have done it without some help In rural areas. Walker used a helicopter.

A bird is a big help to AEP. Where lines are down in the dense woods, the chopper gives a birds-eye view of the damage.

"You can see a lot more line a lot faster," said Walker, describing how helpful the helicopter is to his work.

In the sky, AEP Engineer Technician Chris Walker has the same resources as crews in the city.

A laptop plus a mobile radio let Walker survey downed power lines and report back to AEP. If you think damage looks bad on the ground, Walker says, take a peek from the sky.

"This is pretty bad. There's a lot of stuff that fell," said Walker.

In the city, AEP Line Crew Supervisor Tommy Bondurant is hard at work. According to AEP, it takes a three-to-four-person crew about four hours on average to put up one new power pole. Friday's storm knocked down 500 poles in AEP territory. Five days in, staying motivated is a challenge.

"I think the fatigue factor is the biggest factor for the day," said Bondurant.

Fortunately, there are customers like Dewey Oakes - understanding, not angry, with the power crews.

"Ya know, we got no complaints. These guys are doing the best they can do. This area through here is just devastated," said Oakes.

There are many like Oakes with no power, living just houses away from customers with the juice. Unfortunately, the power grid is divided like that by design.

"It might be that little bitty branch right on the end that doesn't have it. Everybody else around you, they have power and you don't. That's the way it works and there's a lot of scattered things like that," said Bondurant.

As far as when the power will be back on, it still stands for this Saturday for Central Virginia. But, a lot of work to do between now and then.

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