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Lineworkers brave danger to keep the lights on
If your radio alarm clock woke you up on time for work this morning, you can probably thank a line worker.
If youíre still shivering in the chill, you can be thankful itís May 1, your power will soon be restored and the snow that caused all the problems will soon be converted to runoff headed toward the nearest river.
April 18 was officially National Lineman Appreciation Day, but for most of us in Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas, it could have been Sunday, April 30. Thatís when line workers pulled themselves away from church or a day with their families to venture out in a full-fledged blizzard to keep the electricity flowing.
Itís one thing to lose television or Internet service because of a power outage ó the extent of the inconvenience for many of us ó still another for vital medical services, businesses or livestock operations.
NPPD and rural electrical districts in the area put in many overtime hours on Sunday and will be back out again today to restore power to customers who are still in the dark.
There are about 115,000 lineworkers in the United States who keep the power flowing to 155 million electric consumers in the United States.
Sunday, with heavy, wet snow and gusts over 40 mph, was all too typical of the weather lineworkers face when they are called out for emergency repairs.
The heavy snow and wind knocked down many branches and whole trees only recently leafed out for the spring. Those, in turn, knocked out power lines, fell on houses and cars and blocked streets and roadways.
It wonít be easy reaching a lot of the broken power lines, thanks to hilly terrain and roads already free of winter frost and thirsty for moisture in any form.
Utility line work is consistently among the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America, and about 30 to 50 workers out of every 100,000 are killed on the job every year. That doesnít include many others who suffer non-fatal loss of limbs from electrical burns and mechanical.
Thatís more than twice the fatality rate of police officers and linemen.
Police and firemen deserve our support and respect, of course. But letís add lineworkers to the list of dedicated professionals who help make our way of life possible.