2 dozen men from Charlotte area home after assisting with Sandy power issues

by: Andrew Doud Updated:

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CONCORD, N.C. - Almost two dozen men from three cities in the Charlotte area are back home tonight after 10 days in West Virginia.

They were with electrical crews helping restore power to hundreds of people impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

But they had to deal with obstacles many had never faced on the job before.

Johnny Putnam with Kings Mountain Electrical said, "Fifteen-16 hours days, it's tough. it takes its toll on you after a couple days."

For 10 days, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., 18 men with Concord, Kings Mountain and Shelby power crews worked through high winds and heavy snow in the mountains of West Virginia.

"We accomplished a lot being in West Virginia," Larry Barbee said.

Larry Barbee was with an eight-man crew from Concord. He's helped restore power after hurricanes before on the Carolina coast, but says he's never had to deal with the elements they faced last week.

He said they were responsible for about 50 miles of downed lines that affected around 100,000 people. Some days they would be able to get power back on for hundreds; other days, no one.

"It's very frustrating when you go out there and you spend 16 hours a day and at the end of the night, you can't restore power to anybody," Barbee said.

They took power trucks off road and across creeks.

When the terrain was too much, men would have to climb to the top of power poles to make repairs.

"When you look back on this, that hey, we did our best, we went to this mountain and we conquered this mountain, and we restored power for these people, it just gives you a good feeling to know you went out and helped these people," Barbee said

The crews returned to the Charlotte area Sunday.