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Linemen Interview & Tips for Disaster Work Prep | Disaster Work Part 3

We wanted to know more about linemen's experiences in the field when they are called out for disaster work and wanted to be able to share some advice and tips on how to prepare. So, we interviewed four of our lineman friends from around the country: Matt who is a Troubleshooter, Tracy and Phillip who are Safety Managers, and Joe who is an Operation Supervisor, and asked them to share some of their tips for disaster work and knowledge about performing storm restoration work.


Be Prepared with tips for disaster work preparation.

Get a storm bag packing list here.


Lineman Storm Work Q&A


1) What is the thing you find most challenging about storm work?

  • Matt: Working on different system configurations. (Delta or Wye systems, REA or Municipal style construction)

  • Tracy: Being away from family when the worst has come and relying on others to take care of them and correct issues at your own home.

  • Joe: When we show up, something catastrophic has happened.  There is normally a lot of confusion and a lot of different companies and contract companies working together. You have to watch for the overlap of workers.  Make sure everyone is on the same page.

  • Phillip: The things that always stick out are different systems and different areas. From traffic to terrain, everywhere we go is different from where we are used to.


2) What is your most memorable experience while working a storm?

  • Matt: The first-time using snow chains and finding out the hard way you are not supposed to drive 60 mph with them on your tires.

  • Tracy: Having customers bring out food for the crews to eat during a Christmas outage.

  • Joe: We were helping in Moore Oklahoma in an area that was completely wiped out after a tornado. The folks of Moore came out with food and drinks for all of us. It was a touching moment because a lot of them had lost everything and they were still trying to give back. It was an awesome life lesson for me.

  • Phillip: Puerto Rico, the whole experience. The People, the culture, the challenges of the mountains and roads, and the large number of people working together for one cause.


3) What won't you ever leave home without when leaving to work a storm?

  • Matt: Plenty of cash, rubber boots, a boot dryer, plenty of socks.

  • Tracy: Toilet paper, a good flashlight, snacks, and clean socks.

  • Joe: I never leave without enough clothes to last me at least two weeks.

  • Phillip: A good flashlight.


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4) What is the best thing about working storm restoration? What is the worst?

  • Matt: The gratifying feeling of restoring power to a devastated area has a great feeling of accomplishment, and usually the money is good.
    The worst is driving by seeing the destruction afterward and knowing some people have lost everything they own and sometimes a loved one.

  • Tracy: The best would be seeing people appreciate what you do.  The worst is when you can’t meet the customers’ expectations of getting the lights on as you have no control over the priorities.

  • Joe: The best thing is knowing you are going there to help people in need and doing a job most are not able or willing to do. The worst part is the weather. It’s normally cold and wet or hot and humid.

  • Phillip: The feeling of accomplishment and that you’re a part of something greater than yourself. The hours, the lodging, the driving all night and day.


5) What advice or tip would you give to someone who will be doing storm work for the first time?

  • Matt: No one is going to protect yourself like yourself, so pay attention and be ready for the unexpected.

  • Tracy: Be prepared for a changing environment. Seeing people at their worst and at their best.

  • Joe: Make sure what you are working on is safe to work and know where you are.

  • Phillip: Zero energy check! Never assume anything is dead. Always check and double-check. Don’t get in a hurry even though people are frantic and wanting their power back on. Take your time and do it the right way.