SPOKANE, Wash. – An Avista crew returned home from Georgia after helping for more than a week to turn the power back on. More than one million people in the Peach State lost power when Tropical Storm Irma rolled through the state last Monday.
Crews from across the country traveled South to help repair downed power lines. Avista sent a 19 person crew with 15 vehicles to Macon, which is about an hour and a half south of Atlanta.
"I think it's huge, just as a nation, to show how we stand together as a nation in America when times get tough to look out after each other and help out in anyway we can,” Coeur d’Alene manager from Avista Chris Schlothauer said.
Schlothauer said the damage they saw in Georgia was very similar to what the Inland Northwest saw after the 2015 wind storm.
"The tree damage--that was a majority of the damage from the wind and the hurricane,” he explained. “The biggest difference, I guess, from the pines we have in our area--they have a lot of poplars there were extremely large that took out a lot of the poles, lines and infrastructure in the area."
Georgia Power – the local company – coordinated what sites Avista would respond to, and Schlothauer said they typically worked 17 hour days.
"All the guys did well,” he said. “As you know they're used to working long hours in the storms and everyone was very appreciative of the fact that we could go back to an area and help others out as we had folks helping us out in the 2015 storm."
Schlothauer said Georgia residents were very friendly and hospitable. One woman even brought them into her historic home, and fed them sandwiches.
He said their accommodations were extremely comfortable.
"They had air conditioning, they had power to them. Very comfortable conditions,” Schlothauer said. “They were bunk style set ups. They were all decked out with sheets and blankets and pillows and you name it."
Schlothauer was proud to report while they were away, Avista crews came back home with no incidents reported.