We Energies crews return home after helping on East Coast

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KENOSHA -- Dozens of Wisconsin-based We Energies crews are returning home after helping with "Superstorm Sandy" relief on the East Coast.

The We Energies trucks rolled into Wisconsin Wednesday afternoon, November 14th. The We Energies crews finished a 900-mile journey to the East Coast to provide Sandy relief. 

Crews worked 15-hour days for two straight weeks, helping to restore power after the storm.

John Pilling was on the trip as an area manager. He and over three dozen others left Wisconsin two weeks ago. 

After a few days in Detroit, the power restoring convoy continued to the East Coast -- ultimately landing in Queens, New York.

"In conditions like this, you work rain or shine. As the power would come back on, whole blocks of people at times would come out of their homes cheering and looking for hugs," Pilling said.

At its peak, the storm knocked out power for roughly 8.5 million homes and businesses. Two weeks after Sandy struck, that number was down to 160,000, thanks in large part to all the extra energy crews sent in.

Lead lineman Tom Dudek said crews learned a lot about how other power companies work their lines -- not to mention being a part of a historical cleanup effort. However, Dudek said in the end the biggest reward was helping those in need.

"We did get a lot of hugs, a lot of handshakes, a lot of clapping, people coming out of their houses cheering and stuff, so that was neat too," Dudek said.

The crews will get some time to rest and recoup, but then it's right back to work as usual -- at least until the next big weather event.