TN Valley power crews return home from Florence duty
While more people are being deployed to help with Hurricane Florence cleanup efforts, some crews from the Tennessee Valley are making their way back home.
Crews from the Tennessee Valley Authority were deployed to North Carolina last week. Eighty-five people, 60 pieces of machinery and two helicopters were sent to Wilmington.
Bret Renfroe left his wife and two children to help Hurricane Florence victims. Now back home, he's relieved to be reunited with his family.
“It's been quite an adventure," he said. "Glad everyone is back home and safe.”
Five days seemed like a long time. He left for North Carolina with TVA to assist in hurricane recovery. Duke Energy called for their assistance in restoring power as part of their partnership.
“We focused on transmission lines which brings the bulk power," Renfroe said. "We didn't see as much damage to the transmission lines, but we still did a lot of work while we were there.”
He's not the only one who packed up and left to go help strangers. Crews from across the Tennessee Valley volunteered their time and energy. A six-person crew from Athens Utilities returned home earlier this week, but crews from the National Guard and other power companies are waiting to get the all clear to return home.
“Lots of the rivers are still peaking, Renfroe added. "You can't start cleanup till all the water is down. It could be another week before crews can get in there and start cleaning up.”
Efforts in the Tennessee Valley are still ongoing. The Humane Educational Society is working around the clock to house animals displaced by the storm. Overnight, they received 55 more dogs from North Carolina.
“Their shelter roof actually blew off during the hurricane and flooded,” Executive Director Bob Citrullo said.
With so many devastating stories, the flooding stood out the most. Crews can't help but think of the people they left behind.
“The flooding was the big thing there. In some cases, you needed a boat to get to the structure. We got a bulldozer were trying to drive, it just doesn't work underwater,” Renfroe said.
Ten people with Sequachee Valley Electric are still in North Carolina. The crew expects to be home by Monday.
McMinn County crews with the National Guard hope to be home by early next week as well.