During a heavy storm in the Omaha metropolitan area earlier this month, Fremont Electrical Distribution Superintendent Mike Royuk said he kept expecting a call from the Omaha Public Power District.
“And then that same morning, OPPD called me around 6 o’clock in the morning and said to pretty much send everything we could spare,” he said.
To assist with damages from the 90 mph winds seen on the night of July 9, Fremont sent six lineworkers to Omaha to work throughout the weekend.
While Fremont saw a handful of power outages that night, Royuk said it was nothing compared to Omaha, which had more than 180,000 households without power.
As many Nebraska cities and utilities have mutual aid agreements for these instances, Royuk said Fremont has helped out others before, as well as received help of their own.
“One time, we called Grand Island because they’re pretty close and they sent us a couple of crews,” he said. “And then we called Grand Island the next storm we had, and they had about the same amount of damage as we did, so I ended up calling Hastings and they sent a crew to help us out for an ice storm.”
In the early morning after the storm, Royuk went through his call list and ended up getting Kent Deming, Dillon Hanson, Conner Jenkins, Jim Jorgensen, Chris McManus and Brad Wentz to help out OPPD.
“I sent two three-man crews with a pickup, a digger and a bucket truck each,” he said. “And we all met at the shop at 7 in the morning and they went down there.”
The six lineworkers spent all day Saturday and Sunday assisting in clearing trees off of power lines and setting poles.
“The trees had blown over and kicked lines and power poles down, so for the most part, we worked on that stuff,” Royuk said. “And when they start larger groups of people out, sometimes you can set one pole and get 1,200 people back on.”
Although Fremont was too busy to send any more workers after the initial support, Royuk said he sent a contracted tree crew to help clear the power lines last week.
“They had a lot of linemen coming in from other areas and needed some more tree trimmers than linemen at that point,” he said. “And they wanted them to run our backyard equipment, so I said, ‘Well, I can send a crew down that does that for a living for us.’”
All in all, Royuk said he was proud of Fremont’s lineworkers stepping up to the task and was glad to help out Omaha in a time of need.
“Everything went really well, and I really appreciate the help we get from other communities, as I’m sure they appreciate the help from us,” he said. “It’s just a group effort.”