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November 2, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Utility and Red Cross workers heading east to help

Volunteers from the American Red Cross of  King, Kitsap and North Mason counties and workers from Seattle City Light and the Snohomish County Public Utility District are being dispatched to the East Coast to help with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Fourteen City Light workers, including two five-person crews, two engineers, a supervisor and a safety expert, will be heading to Long Island in the next day, said Suzanne Hartman, spokeswoman for City Light.

“We’re sending them to the Long Island Power Authority. We made ourselves available,” Hartman said.

City Light is working with Joint Base Lewis-McChord to get the workers and equipment to New York. The military was working Friday morning on logistics on how to transport the workers, as well as two bucket trucks, “derrick diggers” and other equipment, Hartman said. Their hope is to leave Saturday morning but things are still being sorted out, she added.

Master Sgt. Todd Wivell, chief of public affairs for McChord Airfield, said they are waiting for their assignment from the Air Force. He said they would be flying a C-17 aircraft.

“We don’t know if it will be tomorrow or Sunday,”  Wivell said.

Hartman said that Long Island Power Authority requested City Light’s help.

“In all honesty, it took them this long to assess what they’re going to need. They had crews in who were closer, but now with the magnitude of [what they’re dealing with] they need the help,” she said.

Neil Neroutsos from the Snohomish County PUD said they have sent crews to help New Jersey Central Power and Light. Crews from Snohomish County, Clark County and Eugene, Ore. flew out of Portland on Thursday to assist.

“They flew into Newark and today they’re being positioned out at Asbury Park, out on the coast,” Neroutsos said. “They wanted us out there quickly.”

Neroutsos said they sent two crews, a total of 11 workers, along with basic gear.

“They’ll work 16 hours on and eight hours off and they’ll be out there for up to two weeks,” Neroutsos added.

So far, 45 Red Cross volunteers from Western Washington have been sent to help. Volunteers will assist with shelter operations, running dining halls for people in need and helping people seeking mental and health services, according to a Red Cross spokeswoman.

“People have been calling the last few days wondering if they can volunteer. If they’re what we call spontaneous volunteers we’re asking them to sign up to become a general volunteer,” Rachel Ramey, spokeswoman for the Seattle-area Red Cross also asking people to donate to the Puget Sound Blood Center.

The American Red Cross is taking donations to help people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Relief workers are also taking donations at 1-800-Red-Cross.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: hurricane sandy, Red Cross, Seattle City Light

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