The day dawns nice and sunny, and Corpus Christi has not suffered a direct hit. I drive in from my hotel about an hour away, and nothing seems out of order. Lines are up, traffic flowing, people are going about their Wednesday morning business.
HQ for AEP TX is close in to downtown Corpus Christi, and once inside the building, at the front desk/security desk, you can sense a change. People have been working non-stop since Friday night, when Harvey slammed into the coast just northeast of the city. That said, my hosts at AEP are nothing if not kind, efficient, professional, and they get me a badge and assign a driver to get me out to the hurricane damage zone.
We cover it all, and the further we get toward the Gulf Coast, the more evident it becomes. This was / has been / is and will be major. Some lines are down, some poles are bent — but as we drive further out, it keeps getting worse. Then I’m told every utility’s nightmare. Yesterday there was a fatality on the lines, during restoration work. A young line worker, just out of lineman training. May or may not have had anything to do with his untimely death, but he’s gone. The crews are — understandably — rattled. What can be said? Those who go into this line of work know it is dangerous, know something could go wrong at any minute. Every utility I have ever been around preaches safety, safety, safety first. AEP TX is no different, and for the record, the worker who died worked for a contractor. I do not ask which; it doesn’t matter. Lives are — quite literally — on the line in these storm recovery efforts, and as we drive out further, and see greater damage, I just cannot, personally, shake the image of this worker, truly one of the best of the best, now fallen, in the line of duty.
We travel on. Life goes on. The lights must come back on. But for today, it doesn’t feel right to write anymore. I’ve picked out a few pictures and sent them back, but for now, again, the only thing that feels right is to say THANK YOU and God Bless You to this young, fallen lineman — as well as to ALL the utility workers and contractors on the lines, who give so much of themselves, sometimes even the ultimate sacrifice of their life, in the line of duty.
You truly are Our Heroes, one and all.