California sends aid to storm-struck East

Storm cut power to more than 7.4M homes

SAN DIEGO - California is sending help to storm-ravaged East Coast areas.

Gov. Jerry Brown said the California National Guard on Monday flew airplanes, helicopters and two specialized rescue teams to North Carolina. Last weekend, 10 search-and-rescue experts from fire departments up and down the state were sent to Virginia and other areas.

Brown said more than 80 people trained in medical aid and emergency response were being sent.

Pacific Gas & Electric said it's sending more than 150 workers to help restore power in New York, and Southern California Edison is sending 170 employees and contractors to assist New York's Consolidated Edison Co. SoCal Edison vehicles and equipment will travel cross-country in a convoy.

San Diego Gas & Electric announced that is shipping more than 20 pieces of equipment to the East Coast Tuesday to be used by approximately 40 SDG&E employees who will be assisting New York City utility Con Edison in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. Crews will be departing on Friday.

The equipment is being shipped cross-country via flatbed truck. Among the equipment being sent includes mechanized line trucks, aerial/bucket trucks, light duty bucket trucks, supervisor trucks and field mechanic trucks.

According to the company, the temporary loan of mutual assistance crews will not hamper SDG&E's ability to meet its customers' needs.  

Ron Simpson is one of the 40 SDG&E employees who will head out to New York City.

"It's what we signed up for," Simpson, an electric supervisor, said. "Firefighters, they march into the burning buildings and that's what they do and, and we keep the power on and keep the lights on."

On Tuesday morning, they loaded up everything from light duty SUV's to big bucket trucks onto flatbeds and sent them off to NYC.

The local crews will be in the thick of the aftermath, helping the utility company, Con Edison, fix downed power lines, replace power poles and help restore power. 

"It sounds like more than just repairs," Simpson explained. "We'll actually probably be rebuilding some of the system itself."

SDG&E employees like Simpson have the skills to help, and the heart to return a sense of normal to complete strangers. 

"It feels good inside really rewarding right here (points to heart) especially when you get a whole segment of line together and you heat it up and the whole neighborhood lights up - that's your reward right there," Simpson added with a smile.

The storm cut power to more than 7.4 million homes and businesses along the East Coast. 

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