Church, local restaurants feed 280 SCE&G linemen | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | October 22, 2016 5:00 am
Last Updated: October 19, 2016 at 2:05 pm
Nearly 300 SCE&G workers got a place to eat and relax after a hard day, thanks to the Walterboro Christian Center.
The center donated the use of its 8,000 sq.ft. banquet hall, as well as the church parking lot where the big trucks parked.
The workers ate breakfast and supper at the center, said Pastor JaDon Buckner. They took their lunches with them on the road. When he got the call from SCE&G asking for help, Buckner didn’t hesitate. “We normally house the trucks anyway during times like this so they can go do their job,” he said. “They needed a place big enough for everybody to sit down and eat at one time, and they didn’t have any place available.”
Because the parking lot was full of trucks at night, Buckner also arranged security to watch over them.
“We’re a church, so this is how we’re supposed to live,” Buckner said. “We pray. Thank God that the hurricane turned and stayed off land. You’ve got so many people who have been praying for the same things as well. It’s a collaborative effort with our church and other people across the world, praying. We’re really blessed, compared to North Carolina that’s under water, how bad Beaufort was.”
Old House Café provided breakfasts and Jimmy Fitts’ Catering did supper for the crowd.
On Friday, Jimmy Fitts and his crew were pretty tired, after feeding the crew for seven nights straight. “I get out there and prep all morning, get home at 2 and go back at 4,” he said. “These Ohio boys, they like a good hot meal.” The menu for the week included pork loin, pork chops, fried chicken, prime rib, grilled chicken and barbecue. “Sunday I get to rest,” Fitts said.
Tim Sumner of Old House was home taking a nap Friday afternoon. “They’ve been right there with it every day. They’ve been coming in by 3:30 every morning so they could have breakfast ready by 6,” said his wife, Linda Sumner. “We’re glad to be able to help them, because those linemen really worked hard and have done a great job.”
Annie Davis with SCE&G Human Resources came down from Columbia to help organize things for the crews, making sure they had hotel rooms and food.
On Friday, 280 contractors and employees were based in Walterboro, although some were working in Beaufort and Hampton areas. And the number keeps growing to meet the amount of damage needing to be repaired, she said. “My job is to try to make their stay better — at least tolerable.”
Lineman Tom Powell and his crew from Ohio, joined by another crew from Daytona, Fla., were grateful for the sanctuary. “We got here late Sunday night and have been here all week. Everybody’s been a pleasure to work with down here. Everybody’s been great to us. The Lord’s looking out over all of us.”
Being a lineman is a dangerous job, he said. Sometimes they have to cut the trees off the power lines, and when the power starts coming back on, sometimes those lines are hot. But “it’s all in the training,” Powell said. “You’ve got to avoid complacency, got to have your game plan on every day. It’s all training. It’s built into us.
He anticipated finishing up in Colleton County on Friday, then being sent somewhere else that was in Matthew’s path.
“It’s been a pleasure working here,” he said.