April 27, 2011. The sun came up as usual, a normal enough beginning to a typical spring morning. But for the residents of west central Alabama, normal was about to be changed forever. On TV and radio, the warnings came early and often, and when the storms struck, they were short-lived but devastatingly thorough. A wave of deadly tornadoes cut a swath across the Southeast that day, causing loss of life and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. Outside Tuscaloosa, Fred McKinley’s Alabama Power line crew watched in disbelief as a succession of funnels traced a path through their town. For the next several days, they and hundreds of fellow crew members in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi worked day and night, rebuilding lines and substations in neighborhoods they barely recognized anymore. Incredibly, within a week, service had been restored to everyone who was capable of receiving it.
Natural disasters are a fact of life, and linemen know they’ll be called in for such duty eventually. It’s never easy, but it’s part of the job, and for them a way of giving back to a community in need. We salute these men and women and the thousands of co-workers who support them, especially on days like this.