Thanks, power line workers

Utility vehicles line Mirror Lake Drive in Lake Placid Tuesday morning. Numerous trucks migrated to the area to repair lines and clear downed trees following high winds and flooding Friday. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

We got a new emergency radio scanner in the newsroom a few months ago, to replace a broken one. We asked our resident radio ace, pressman Jesse Phelan, to program the local public service channels back into it, and he added one we hadn’t had in there before — National Grid.

Boy, was that channel busy on Friday.

Obviously, that day’s wind storm required major action by electrical crews, but what was most interesting to us was how cheerful their voices were, despite the long, hard day assessing and repairing damage out in raw weather.

The last thing we remember hearing from them late that night was one lineman signing off until the morning, and the other saying, “OK, sleep quickly” — light-heartedly but without a bit of sarcasm.

Maybe these guys were just happy thinking about all the overtime pay they were earning, but after so many hours, we believe it had to be more than that.

It’s important for all of us to thank the workers who keep our shared infrastructure working, and fix it when it breaks. It isn’t just those who work for National Grid; it’s also NYSEG, the municipal electric crews from the villages of Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, and the workers who handle phone and cable lines.

Friday’s storm didn’t get a lot of advance billing, but its wind gusts were strong and persistent over many hours, and therefore it knocked an amazing number of trees and their limbs onto utility lines — not just up here but throughout the Northeast. It took all weekend to get many of those customers back on, and some may still be in the dark.

We are sure many of those people are frustrated at having to wait so long. We don’t know enough at this point to judge the utility companies’ response, but we can say we saw a ton of utility bucket trucks in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid from before the storm got bad through Monday — it looked like they were having a convention. And they came from all over. At a stoplight Sunday, we were behind one with license plates from New Brunswick, Canada, roughly a 10-hour drive away.

This really was a massive repair job. We are grateful for the big response, and the workers’ good spirits.

Of course it isn’t just line workers we’re grateful for. There are all kinds of professionals and volunteers who got us through this storm. But we were thinking especially of line workers this week, who are often forgotten until the lights go out — and then blamed for not getting them back on sooner. They deserve some special appreciation.