A convoy of NIE overhead line crews, tree cutters, vehicles and equipment is heading for Kent to help rebuild electricity networks in the wake of the St Jude storm.
Forty-six men and 27 vehicles, including linesmen who normally work in the Omagh area, set sail on Tuesday morning to assist with repairing overhead electricity lines brought down by trees and galeforce winds, and to help restore power to the tens of thousands of homes that are still without electricity.
Overhead line crews from Enniskillen, Omagh, Campsie, Downpatrick and Craigavon and Ballymena drove to the Seven Oaks area of England to work along side local repair teams and colleagues from other parts of the UK. They travelled with specialised equipment, such as mobile elevation platforms, tree cutting equipment and four wheel drive vehicles.
Sean McLean, NIE Overhead Lines Manager, who is accompanying the teams, said, “In this business we need to respond quickly so it’s good to help out colleagues when we can – it only takes the wind to change for us to have to call in those favours.
“Over the last few years and particularly in the recent March snow storm, we benefitted greatly from help overhead lines crews from GB and RoI so we understand the need for mutual aid following this type of weather.
“We were monitoring the storm damage all day yesterday and the worst affected network operator confirmed yesterday evening that they would need our help. Since then we have been sorting out the travel logistics and ensuring that we have all the correct equipment packed.
“We will not know the full extent of the damage until we arrive so we don’t know yet when we will be coming home. We’re planning to stay until the last customer has power restored. ”
The crews arrived in Kent late on Tuesday night and started work at first light on Wednesday.