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Central Maine Power crew honored for response to Hurricane Ida

A crew of 12 went to New Orleans, Louisiana, to restore power to more than 890,000 people who lost it as the storm destroyed homes and businesses.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Central Maine Power received an award for its crews' response to helping others in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in the summer of 2021.

More than 890,000 lost power after the Category 4 hurricane hit Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on Aug. 29. The crews worked 17-hour days in more than 100° heat, heavy rain, and flooded conditions.

Lead lineworker Sam Webber was one of 12 CMP workers who traveled to New Orleans in August to help restore power to the thousands who lost it during the hurricane.

"We would drive by neighborhoods where the houses were completely gone. There was nothing. There was nothing to rebuild; there was no power to put on because there was no structure to hook it to. It was eye-opening. We usually pick up trees here and move snow and get the power on," Webber said. "Whole houses and buildings and businesses were totally gone."

The company sent four bucket trucks, a garage mechanic, a safety specialist, a manager, and a supervisor to help get the lights back on. Their duties consisted of repairing underground cables. The work allowed them to get power back to roughly 200 houses at a time.

Many of the workers were away from their homes for about 2 1/2 weeks. It was the farthest the power company's crews have ever traveled to help another utility.

CMP received the Emergency Response Award from the Edison Electric Institute for its response. It's an international nomination process and an award these workers were proud to be recognized with.

"It's really self-gratifying that what we did was looked at as over and above other companies, and it makes you feel good," Webber said.

The Emergency Response Awards recognize recovery and assistance efforts of electric companies following service disruptions caused by extreme weather or other natural events. The Edison Electric Institute presents the award to member companies.

A panel of judges chose the winners following an international nomination process, and the awards were presented during EEI’s virtual winter board of directors meeting on Jan. 11. According to a news release, CMP’s sister utilities in Connecticut and New York were also recognized for their efforts.

“Our team here at CMP is always ready and willing to lend a helping hand during times of need,” CMP President and CEO Joe Purington said in a news release. “This is what Mainers do. When we got the call, we jumped into action, making the long journey south and worked tirelessly to repair the significant damage to Louisiana’s electric grid following the destruction of Hurricane Ida. I am really proud of our teams for their commitment and dedication, both during this recovery effort and every day here at home in Maine.”

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