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I&M sends 140 workers to West Virginia in advance of storm

Red Cross already has northeast Indiana workers deployed

Monday, October 29, 2012 - 5:22 pm

As Hurricane Sandy spawned a coastal inundation and a forecast of a heavy inland snow, people from Fort Wayne were already being sent east to help in the recovery.

Indiana Michigan Power Company is sending about 140 workers to West Virginia, “where an expected 8 -18 inches of heavy wet snow is predicted as a result of the storm,” I&M spokesman David Mayne said Monday in an email.

“Of those, about 18 line mechanics from the Fort Wayne area are on the way. We are also sending some support personnel in addition to the line mechanics,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, five volunteers from northeast Indiana for the American Red Cross are now standing ready to help in New York, West Virginia and Maryland, said Katherine MacAulay, chief operations officer of American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana.

MacAulay said the northeast Indiana volunteers flew traveled this weekend to areas likely to be affected by the storm. Two drivers and an emergency-response vehicle are in Scranton, Penn., now, ready to distribute food and clean-up kits.

Two shelter volunteers are in Albany, N.Y., and another is in Baltimore, she said. Depending on the severity of the storm and the difficulty of travel, another 10-15 volunteers from this area may go to the East Coast to help with disaster relief, MacAulay said. At this point, the American Red Cross is looking at a gigantic relief effort, extending to 300 shelters.

Because the reach of Sandy and a related weather system over Indiana is so wide, the utility isn't drawing down its local resources too much. “We are holding back some people close to home,” Mayne wrote. “While the severity of the storm is not expected to be as great here as in the east, there are forecasts that call for strong winds in our area, so there are people who will be staying at home to address any problems that may come about due to the storm.”

I&M employs about 335 in Fort Wayne.

Only four months ago, utility crews from other states came to Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana to help restore service after a ferocious wind storm knocked out power for more than 100,000 customers.