Aberdeen Electric Crew Lights Up New York-area Families
Nine days after Hurricane Sandy took out his power and heat — and with temperatures in his home dropping into the 30s — New Yorker Robert Sheps was worried about the health and safety of his three young children.
When, he wondered, would the utilities be restored to his home in Plainview, Long Island?
His continued attempts to get help from local work crews failed. You’ve got to be on a list, crews told him. And it’d be two or three more weeks until crews could get power to his neighborhood.
“I couldn’t find anybody willing to help,” Sheps said in a phone conversation Thursday afternoon.
Enter Eddie Baker and the guys with Lee Electrical and Construction in Aberdeen. Sheps found the team a few blocks from his home. They were up there helping local crews restore power in the wake of Sandy.
It was past 6 p.m. on Wednesday, and the Lee crew was working in icy, windy, frigid conditions, and it was getting worse by the hour. Other crews were packing up for the evening.
Sheps approached Baker and explained his situation.
“Don’t worry,” Baker told him. “We’ll come help as soon as we can.”
“After a long day in an ice storm, they could have said no,” Sheps said. ”They could have walked away.”
An hour later, the crew from Lee Electric pulled up in front of Sheps’ home.
“Eddie met me in my driveway and said to me with his good Southern accent, ‘I told you sir, we ain’t gonna leave anyone stranded out here,’” Sheps said.
That night, the Lee crew let there be light in the Sheps household.
They even returned a day later when high winds knocked out the power again.
“I came home and they were there working again,” Sheps said. “There were even crew members in a driveway shoveling it for one of our elderly residents. They have been great, and the whole neighborhood loves Lee Electric.”
Baker, a foreman for Lee Electric, said his crew just “tried a little harder” because the Sheps family and their neighbors “treated us right.”
“They were nice people. They were polite,” Baker said. “It was just like a neighbor helping a fellow neighbor. I know I would want the same for me if the shoe were on the other foot.”
Jerry Lee, president of Lee Electric, had a stack of letters in his office Friday from Sheps and others affected by Sandy.
“We’re not seeking glory. We’re just doing our job,” Lee said. “But we’re very proud of our people. I think we’ve got the best people out there, bar none. I wouldn’t trade them for anyone.
“We let them do their thing because we trust them.”
Lee said about 450 employees were working last week in New York and New Jersey, some of whom migrated with the storm from South Carolina.
“As this storm hit, we started releasing people to head north as the storm progressed up the East Coast,” he said. “We want to help the affected people. When those folks praise our work, I know it means a lot to our crews out in the field.”
On Friday, Long Island residents protested long delays in getting power restored. It is estimated more than 100,000 homes in that area are still without power nearly two weeks after the storm.
Following his positive experience with the crews from Lee Electrical, Sheps contacted Lee to thank him.
“Those guys adopted our neighborhood and did a great job,” Sheps said. “Everyone in our neighborhood (about 20 homes) is very, very thankful.”
Sheps, whose letter to Lee details his experiences, sent a copy to The Pilot. In it, he called the crews “local heroes” and wrote: “On behalf of my family, and my neighbors on Buckness Drive, in Plainview, Long Island, I just wanted to thank you, Eddie, the entire crew and the great people at Lee Electric for doing what now one else was willing to do to really help us out in very tough times. You guys are the best and we on Long Island are forever grateful.”
Sheps said the Northeast, particularly Long Island, is slowly recovering from the storms that destroyed homes, flooded neighborhoods and left hundreds of thousands without power.
“We are lucky because we just lost our heat and power,” Sheps said. “There are plenty of people much worse off. There are still a ton of people who need help. It is still crazy up here.”
But warmer and well-lit on Buckness Drive in Plainview, Long Island, because of Aberdeen’s Lee Electric.
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