Linemen get crafty, use fallen pine tree as utility pole

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Feb. 21, 2014

Linemen use fallen limb as utility pole (WRDW-TV)

WINDSOR, S.C. (WRDW) -- Destini Hunkins has power again, but how she got it back is a story worth telling.

"It was like seven or eight o'clock in the morning when the power went out," Hunkins said, recalling last week's ice storm.

That morning, Hunkins found out that her utility pole had snapped under the ice. Linemen from Rutherford Electric in North Carolina, out-of-state contractors for Aiken Electric Cooperative, had the job of fixing it.

"I'm very grateful to the North Carolina team that came to my house, because if it wasn't for them, who knows how long it would have been before my power would have been back on," Hunkins said.

Aiken Electric Coop CEO Gary Stooksbury is thankful too.

"They called back to the office and asked, 'Do you have line truck close? We need a 30 foot utility pole," he said.

But Stooksbury said every truck was tied up at the time, so in an effort to restore Hunkin's power quickly, the team from North Carolina got crafty. They used a fallen pine tree as a utility pole. They fitted it with wires and even nailed the pole number onto the bark.

"In the 30 years I've been in the business, Chad, I have never seen this type of resourcefulness," Stooksbury said.

"If it wasn't for them using the tree, we wouldn't have had power that day," adds Hunkins.

With no big truck, most of the work had to be done by hand. Stooksbury says the three men used a simple winch to remove the broken pole. The rest of the work required even more sweat.

"They went out in the woods and found this replacement, the pine tree," he said. "They cut the top out of it, cut the limbs off of it, and they literally carried it to the pole and set it by hand."

The pine tree pole is gone now. It's been replaced by one a bit more usual.

"I wish I would have taken a picture of it now, because yesterday I went grocery shopping, came home, and it was gone," Hunkins said.

But Stooksbury said it's a story that shows just how dedicated and resourceful linemen are.

"Goes back to the old saying, 'Necessity is the mother of invention,'" he said.

Stooksbury jokingly asked the guys if he could hire them and bring them down to Aiken. But the Aiken Electric CEO says the Rutherford Electric workers politely declined. He said they're now back home in Forest City, North Carolina.

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