Last fall, in the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy, Arkansas co-op linemen traveled to the East Coast to help restore power. they received many emails and notes thanking them for their hard work. But one in particular, from Richard Frisenda of Nassau County, N.Y. to Steven Hall, human resources manager at the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative (NAEC), stood out. We are pleased to share excerpts of that email here.
Dear Mr. Steven Hall:
On the day the nor'easter arrrived, a crew of linemen from North Arkansas Cooperative also arrived on our street, and in absolutely horrendous and dangerous conditions, spent the entire day and evening working to replace a pole and transformer that had come down in front of our home. In spite of the wind and driving snow, they remained out there working until it simply became too unsafe for them to continue.
They returned the next morning and told me that they were going to do everything they could to get our power restored by the end of the day. In the course of my conversation with the crew later that evening, after they had restored power, I learned that for the past four nights they had been sleeping on the floor of the old Jericho Fire Department - no cots, no blankets and no showers. The new firehouse across the street already had 70 utility workers camping out on the floor - where all those men shared only two showers. This particular crew had just been told that they should drive to Brookhaven that evening where they could sleep at a National Guard facility, and they asked me how far that was...
I was appalled. These men were working outside on electrical lines for 16 hours aday, dangerous work in the best of circumstances, and at the end of the day they did not even have the comfort of a hot shower and a decent nights rest. I felt ashamed that they had driven 1,300 miles to help Long Islanders and this was how they were being treated. Told to now drive an additional hour after their 16 hour workday, to sleep on yet another hard floor.
I told these four men that they were welcome to spend the night at my house. My wife and I opened up our home to them because we felt it was the right thing to do. It is because of the work they did restoring our power that we were able to offer them a place to enjoy a hot shower and a warm, comfortable place to sleep. They ended up staying with us for three nights, and it was one of the best experiences we ever had. These men were incredibly respectful to my wife, daughter and me, and we enjoyed getting to know them. They shared stories and photos of their families and children, and, by the end of their stay, we had become friends. My son and I have every intention of accepting their invitation to visit them this summer in Arkansas. I eventually had the opportunity to meet all 25 men who came here from Arkansas, and I will never forget each of these men.
One night one of the men from NAEC that had been staying at my house said they would love to see New York City before they returned to Arkansas. All the men were hoping they would be able to find the time prior to going home, and I told them I would love to be their personal tour guide if they were able to have a day to do so. On Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 9 a.m., I received a phone call that they were being released (from duty) and were able to go to the city...They all said they wanted to see and pay their respects to the World Trade Center vicitims, and they wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. They prayed and cried at St. Paul's Church in lower Manhattan where there is a memorial located directly across from the World Trade Center. They wanted to see the reflecting pools at the Freedom Tower, which normally requires passes that are issued before your arrive. after speaking to a policeman on duty at the site, and explaining the situation, I was able to get them into the memorial where they viewed the waterfalls where each of the victim's names is etched into the granite. This was the first time I personally had been in that area since Sept. 15, 2001, and I had no intention of ever going back there. As a police lieutenant, I had been assigned to the trade center disaster for several days. Having these men with me helped me overcome some images I have had locked up in the back of my head.
To watch these men tour New York City was something that will stay with me forever. Most amazing was the way every single New Yorker we encountered was so gracious and generous to these men - from the conductor on the LIRR who let them ride for free, the subway booth attendant who also let them ride for free, and the Staten Island Ferry employees who held the ferry for them so they wouldn't miss it, etc...
They made me laugh all day long, and they made me realize that by extending my welcome to them I had made some friends for life. On the evening of the day they left to return home, I received a call from one of them just to thank me again. I told him I couldn't talk to him at the mement because I was at the emergency room with my daughter, who was having a medical problem. He told me that if my family needed them, they would turn right around and return if they could help us in any way. They were 12 hours away at that point, but they absolutely meant it. Since the, I have received too many phone calls and text messages to count from these men, as well as their family members, thanking me and my family for bringing them into our home. What they don't realize is that I had the greatest time in my life.
Sincerely, Rich Frisenda.
CoH will apply as will the 3 B's. Be respectful. Be on-topic or BE GONE.