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Power line crews eat up customer appreciation

Bonnie Holland-Breton was fortunate enough to have power throughout Hurricane Sandy, but she sympathized with those in the dark and the crews who braved the elements to clear trees and restore power.

"I took advantage of that luxury and baked some hurricane cookies for the techs and dropped them off when the wind subsided," the Rochester woman said.

She wasn't the only one who found simple ways to thank the line crews and others who have faced the daunting task of removing debris and repairing lines all too often over the past four years.

Others delivered coffee from Dunkin' Donuts and baked goodies for workers to enjoy as they untangled wires and replaced busted equipment.

At the 24-hour Airport Diner in Manchester, workers involved in the massive restoration effort were offered free coffee and meals for half-price.

A similar offer was made at the 17 other restaurants around the state operated by the Common Man.

"They work long hours and often in rough conditions. To be able to offer a free cup of coffee, to fill up their thermos, or half off a meal is the least we could do to thank them for working through the night to restore power," said Erica Auciello Murphy, the Common Man's director of communications.

No matter how many hours they work, utility companies always face some criticism from customers who complain about the time it takes to restore their power.

"It's a thankless position at times. They're doing their work in all kinds of weather and you can't do the work fast enough, but any (kind) gesture that they get really makes their day," said Alec O'Meara, spokesman for Unitil Corp.

Ed Goyette, owner of the BeanTowne Coffee House in Hampstead, fared better in Hurricane Sandy than he has in past storms, especially the ice storm in 2008 that knocked out power for nearly two weeks at his house.

"From a business owner's perspective, I can't thank those guys enough. They just put their heads down and get the job done," Goyette said of the power and cleanup crews.

It's been a bad few years with the Granite State getting pounded by one storm after another, but utility workers say their job is made a little easier when they know their customers are appreciative.

Sometimes, two simple words are just as important as a doughnut and coffee.

"People would say 'thank you,'" said Shawn Reed, vice president and owner of IC Reed & Sons, a utility contractor from Raymond.

Reed's crew finished up their restoration work in New Hampshire Thursday night and hit the road, arriving in Connecticut Friday to begin helping to restore power there.

With Sandy now gone, the Common Man restaurants are now focusing efforts on helping the Red Cross. Those who donate $5 to the Red Cross will get a coupon for a free appetizer, while a $10 donation earns them a free entree coupon. The incentive will be offered through Nov. 9.


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