The Barry Family home was destroyed July 8. A propane leak in the basement caused an explosion that collapsed the back kitchen, knocked the home off its foundation and blew out the side walls and windows. AEP Ohio Line Servicer Jay Leslie saw the devastation firsthand when he was called on the scene to shut the power off.
Fortunately, the family was able to escape without injury. Unfortunately, they no longer had a place to live.
A couple days later, AEP Ohio’s Bucyrus Service Center received a call for re-establishing electric service on the property. Rob Barry had pulled a camper into the garage where he, his wife and their three children were going to live and make do with a portable generator until power could be restored.
Distribution Line Coordinator Steve Frisch recognized the caller and immediately notified Leslie. They understood that a new electrical hookup could take a week or more; even a rush request would take a few days. After Frisch visited the home and talked to Barry – “he was as nice as could be and as appreciative as you could ever want,” Frisch said – he was even more determined.
“It wasn’t right, the family living like that. I really wanted to help this guy out,” Frisch said. “I told him, ‘We’re going to get this done today.’ ”
Frisch made a couple calls – to Line Mechanic-A Jared Young and to a local electrician he knew – for setting the plan in motion. Young brought a line truck; Leslie came to reconnect the wire; the service center donated time and materials and the electrician (a former AEP Ohio employee) offered a couple hundred dollars in free equipment. They set a pole, installed a meter base and, working overtime into the evening, had power back that very day as promised.
“It was past quitting time but we were all pretty much determined that we weren’t leaving until that power was on,” Frisch said. “We were all tickled to death to help. I’m glad we could do it.”
Though Frisch, Leslie and Young were the employees who leapt into action, Frisch – who celebrates 46 years with AEP Ohio on September 24 – said it could have been anybody.
“I’ve been here a long time. It didn’t matter who I was working with, anyone would have volunteered. That’s just how this group is.”
Posted on September 10, 2019