While the majority of us were huddled safely in our homes during last week’s storms, the linemen of APS bravely weathered the sleeting rain and plummeting temperatures for hours to restore power to communities throughout the Rim.
Thanks to their hard work, the majority of customers were back online by Tuesday; however, there were still pockets of homes without power.
Crews from Payson, Phoenix and Ocotillo were busy repairing connections and righting toppled poles to get those few remaining homes and their residents warm again.
Mikel Cole, energy delivery manager with APS, said last week’s storm ranked at the top on his worst storm list.
Todd Thompson, section leader with APS, agreed.
“We had a lot of heavy, wet snow,” he said. “Trees just started falling over.”
Toppling trees are one of the biggest power outage creators. Just as soon as crews manage to restore power to Pine for example, a tree snaps, knocking out power to the town once again.
“With this storm it was frustrating because you get the power on and then it goes off again,” Thompson said. “Residents think, ‘why can’t you keep it on?’ and I understand that frustration.”
Thompson and Cole explained getting the power restored is not as easy as flipping a switch.
With the number of downed poles and lines last week, linemen crews worked 15 hours straight, only taking off enough time to sleep and quickly return to work.
“We have excellent crews,” Thompson said proudly.
Linemen not only have the stamina to handle long hours and bitter cold temperatures, they are also highly skilled.
Because road access was limited due to the heavy snow, crews carefully drove snowcats into wooded areas, then using snowshoes, hiked the power lines looking for breaks all the while trees continued to topple. Luckily, no one was injured.
Injuries are uncommon and usually minor, like a twisted ankle or dehydration.
APS crews were not the only ones working to get the power restored, Gila County worked in conjunction with APS to clear roads.
Cole said he is especially grateful to Gila County for plowing roads for crews.
“They were very helpful,” he said.