Seven lineman and several trucks took off for New York ten days ago from sunny Key West. It's been cool and windy down here, overnight lows managing to get just below sixty degrees one night, but that's as nothing compared to what these tropical workers found in the Empire State.
I had heard the trucks were heading north but the newspaper reported their services weren't required. What the paper failed to report was that they were redirected even though they lack proper winter clothing! Poor buggers! You can see in these pictures, from the Keys Energy website how their clothing is trying to reflect conditions as they traveled north, shirt sleeves at home and jackets blending in with brown Fall leaves on the road and woolly watch caps in the snow...
It took two days to drive up to New York with three bucket trucks, a utility truck and a pole trailer. In fact Delaware, unscathed, turned down the help but on November First the Long Island Power utility stepped up and asked for the Keys' help, workers who have more experience than most dealing with hurricane damage. But not like this.
It may seem odd but I know half a dozen of my young colleagues in Key West, Conchs born on or around the island, who have never seen snow, thus it was the cause of some great merriment to see their friends and neighbors trying to do their job in conditions that aren't just trying but downright peculiar if you have lived your life in the only frost-free town on the continent.
I heard stories that the utility workers also faced the stereotypical bad humor of people who like to live in New York who chose to berate our utility men for their "delayed" response. And it did them no good to protest they had trudged all the way from distant warm Key West to help. And all joking aside, help they did, and are helping, seen here in a place that goes by the unhappy name of Hicksville, New York.
It's a funny story to read about our people working in forty degree weather and worse, repairing lines with snow on the ground, but the post hurricane conditions in New York and New Jersey are a source of a lot of comment in Key West where surviving a storm is matter of course. Not in blizzard conditions of course.
Perhaps it is because we half expect hurricanes any summer, perhaps because we live so obviously close to the source of stormy discomfort, the ocean, that we live our lives half prepared for disaster. I would be embarrassed to run out of fuel food and water within three days of a hurricane strike. Granted I have a good job and thus disposable income thanks to my lack of offspring, but I make sure to have supplies on hand year round. It's a way of life. It was shocking to see the widespread helplessness in the face of an act of natural ferocity whose arrival was accurately predicted for days ahead of the actual event. I am proud of the help that our tiny community sent Up North and admire their tenacity in conditions I never particularly wish to see again, never mind work in. Good for them.