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Burbank Leader

Local crews assist with Superstorm Sandy recovery, relief efforts

11:31 AM PST, November 9, 2012

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With the Eastern Seaboard struggling to recover from the effects of Superstorm Sandy — a recent winter storm that only added to the region’s woes — teams of volunteers from the tri-city area continue to assist with relief efforts there.

Twenty-seven linemen from Burbank, Anaheim, Pasadena and Riverside have joined 12,000 of their counterparts from around the nation for the joint relief effort. Ten of them, from Burbank Water and Power, are assisting with power restoration and relief efforts in New York City, officials said this week.

They arrived after loading an Air Force cargo plane with more than 100,000 pounds of equipment from Burbank — including five utility trucks loaded with tools and chainsaws.

“All their spirits are great,” said Brad Grecker, manager of electrical distribution for Burbank Water and Power. “They just want to help; they just want to get the people back in power.”

But the storm has left the city and surrounding areas “a mess,” Grecker said. “[The Long Island Power Authority] didn’t have the resources to bring people back online in a timely way.”

The nor’easter that swept through the Northeast on Wednesday night dumped record snow, hampered efforts to recover from Superstorm Sandy and has been linked to at least one death.

From New Jersey to New York, roads, trees and homes were blanketed in overnight snow and another 100,000 households lost power, adding to the misery in a region still grappling with widespread storm damage.

The bad weather and white-out conditions prompted major airlines to cancel hundreds of flights, most in the New York area, although airports in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C.

Full coverage: East Coast hit by deadly storm

Meanwhile, the Glendale Fire Department sent its own team of volunteers to help with the recovery effort.

Capt. Tom Marchant has been assigned to the New Jersey shoreline, where he is leading a resource unit as part of the 45-team from California, said Glendale Fire Battalion Chief Ron Gulli.

Organizers have requested that Gulli, Battalion Chief Vincent Rifino, Police Sgt. John Gilkerson and Senior Planner Jeff Hamilton be prepared to be called on for additional support, which mean be a trip of 14 to 28 days. They all have emergency management skills that could prove valuable, Gulli added.

Recovery support will likely encompass restoring power and transportation, clearing debris and building inspections, he said.

But mostly, the region needs financial assistance, Gulli said.

“They really need money,” he said.

And basic services. Scores of frustrated residents, still without power, have been venting on network television in recent days.

From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., the linemen crew sent over to help have been restoring power lines that were knocked over from the wind, rain and falling trees, bringing an estimated 10,000 households a day back online, said Burbank Water and Power spokesman Joe Flores.

The crews have been spending their nights in Tent City, a makeshift campsite near a Long Island substation, Grecker said.

“They’re anxious just to help people,” Grecker said. “There are many areas that are more rural that they may be going to later.”

The crews will likely return home before Thanksgiving.

“We’re hoping this experience will help us if and when we get hit with some major deal out here, because of the experience they’ve gained by helping others,” Grecker said.

RELATED:

A cold slap to Superstorm Sandy's victims

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Nor'easter made 'bad situation worse'

-- Alene Tchekmedyian and Veronica Rocha, Times Community News

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.