Less than two weeks after hundreds of utility workers streamed to this area to help with tornado recovery efforts, hundreds from this region are now returning the favor in storm-stricken Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
In all, Progress Energy and Duke Energy have sent more than 1,000 utility workers to help with power restoration efforts in the wake of monster storms that killed about 300 people in the South. Those workers have been sent from both utilities' service areas in Carolinas as well as Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Additionally, rural cooperatives and municipal power agencies in this state have sent more than 150 linemen and technicians to provide emergency assistance.
Some could remain more than a week as they work long days and live out of hotels or emergency staging areas. In exchange for putting up with hardship conditions, long days and sore muscles, the workers are paid overtime pay from the get-go, without having to log 40 hours before qualifying for their 150 percent overtime rate.
"When they're walking into destruction they're not looking for a comfortable place to sleep," said Ken Raber, Senior vice president of member services with the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency, a service group for municipal utilities.
Only last week, hundreds of workers from neighboring utilities arrived in North Carolina to help with disaster recovery after a spate of tornadoes ravaged the state on April 16.
It's standard practice for power companies to loan workers to each other in emergencies. The companies have mutual-aid contracts that require the host utility to lodge, feed and pay the guest workers.
The emergency crews performing disaster relief work are typically paid time-and-a-half for they hours they work.