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Local Electrician Volunteers East

November 15, 2012

Special to the Times-Record Ottertail Power employee Brad Weninger of Carrington works to restore power to a neighborhood on Long Island, N.Y., after Superstorm Sandy.

An Ottertail Power employee with strong links to Valley City is helping restore power to portions of New York state pummeled by Superstorm Sandy.

Brad Weninger of Carrington is the husband of Valley City native Lisa Weninger, said his father-in-law, Louie Nicoli of Valley City.

Lisa, a registered nurse with Foster County Public Health, said Wednesday her husband left for Long Island, N.Y., Nov. 2 with a group of 16 to 18 Ottertail Power volunteer employees to help restore power to vast areas of the state affected by the storm.

Brad works for the Ottertail Power office in Jamestown.

“They all drove out there,” Lisa said. “The latest I’ve heard is they should be returning this weekend. When they left, they thought it would be for two weeks, but when they saw how bad it was, Brad thought maybe not back until Thanksgiving. Now it looks like this weekend.”

Lisa said the reports she has gotten from her husband are some New Yorkers are getting impatient, and anxious for their power to be restored.

She said many Long Island homes damaged by the storm “still didn’t have plumbers or electricians” to do needed in-house repairs, and main power can’t be restored until basic indoor work is done.

Lisa said some people got resentful when they saw linemen like her husband pass by their homes.

At the same time, many New York residents are showing their appreciation for the volunteer efforts of North Dakota residents, Lisa said.

“Brad said in some neighborhoods people have gone to Starbucks and brought out coffee for workers,” and in other areas linemen have been offered fresh-baked cookies made by locals.

Lisa said she talks with her husband pretty much daily. “My husband tries to call at least once a day because he knows I worry.”

She said her husband is working extremely long hours to restore power on Long Island, from early morning to late evening.

Lisa told her father she received the following note from Richard Lehrer of Long Island, along with several photos of Brad working to restore power in the resident’s neighborhood.

Your husband was a pleasure... we owe you and your family more than you can imagine.. I wish there was, is more that we can do.... It’s people like your husband and his team that made a difference for so many people. I would love to send a letter to the highest ranking person that your husband works for and let him know how professional everyone was... I hope the day never occurs but just in case know that I would help out in anyway possible... Be proud, be safe and if I can do anything for you guys please let me know.”

In an email to the Times-Record, Nicoli wrote that his son-in-law “volunteered to go to the east coast and work to restore power. He has been stationed on Long Island for two weeks … it (receiving the note from a New York resident) was encouraging for Brad because some of the residents were flipping him off and throwing stuff at him for not getting the power restored faster.”

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