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Thunder Bay line crew sleeping in their trucks

Utility workers are restoring power in New York state
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RYE, N.Y. -- As a third nor'easter brought freezing rain and snow into New England on Tuesday, a group of power line workers from Thunder Bay was gearing up to spend at least two more weeks on the road.

Thirteen employees of the private utility contractor Gridlink arrived in New York state on March 4 in a convoy of 13 vehicles.

They have been working in different communities since then, cutting away downed trees and restoring power to homes and businesses knocked off the grid by two previous storms.

So far, the biggest problem they have encountered is a lack of accommodation.

The presence of numerous out-of-town utility crews, and residents affected by outages, has left "every hotel booked up," Gridlink foreman Geoff Miller said in an interview Tuesday morning from Rye, N.Y. 

Miller said "Unfortunately, we've spent the last couple of nights sleeping in our trucks."

He added, however, that the crew's morale is good.

"We're pushing forward. They've asked us to stay for another two weeks. We've requested hotels for tonight and it looks like that will be granted," Miller said.

Rye is just north of New York City.

Miller said that with the new storm hitting the region, the Thunder Bay crew isn't sure yet where their next tasks will take them, but they may go to any of a number of other states including Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

He expects they'll return home with vivid memories of this assignment.

While working in Bedford, N.Y., the crew was saddened to see storm-related destruction in one of the oldest conservation areas in the United States.

"A  huge growth of oak trees and a couple of other types. They had 400-year growth on some of these trees," Miller said. 

He said losing trees was disastrous for the owners of historic homes whose families have lived in the area for generations. 

The team, Miller said, "felt their pain" as the linemen worked for two days in a section where 30 utility poles in a row had been snapped in two. 

"It really brought our crew together. You can see the teamwork build when you have that kind of devastation."