CenterPoint crews head east to restore power

Widespread outages anticipated as Sandy hits coast

HOUSTON - CenterPoint Energy crews in south Houston headed to the east coast Monday to help restore power to Pepco customers affected by hurricane Sandy.

Approximately 60 linemen and 18 support personnel left at 6 a.m. to drive the 1,400-mile trip to restore power in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

"It is rough work," said Dan Martinez, one of the CenterPoint linemen on the crew.  "You've seen from Ike what we had to go through.  We'll be doing 16 hour days picking up line wires, but you never know what kind of conditions you will have.  Hopefully it won't be as bad as they say."

Experts said around 50 million people are expected to feel the effects of Sandy, including strong winds, hard downpours, and massive flooding that could leave millions in the dark without power.

"Everybody is always happy to see any utility company show up because they know they'll be getting their lights on," Martinez said.

The crews may also face snowy conditions.

"I definitely have my long johns because it's supposed to snow up there," lineman Jaime Salines said. "They're predicting 8 to 12 inches of snow in two days."

The CenterPoint crews said they're expected to arrive in Baltimore on Wednesday morning. 

The American Red Cross' Houston chapter also sent a few people to the east coast. About 10 volunteers headed out in vehicles to make sure that people are able to get the food they need after the storm hits.

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