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Greenville crew helps world-famous Titanic explorer

By Mike Valerio, Reporter
Published On: Nov 09 2012 11:12:51 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 10 2012 08:30:27 AM CST
GREENVILLE -

The man who discovered the shipwreck of the Titanic spent days without power in his Connecticut home this week, until a power crew from Greenville arrived to help the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

Dr. Robert Ballard found the wreckage of the world's most famous ocean liner in 1985, 73 years after it sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic. When a 48-member team led by Greenville Utilities pulled up to Ballard's neighborhood, the explorer said he needed their help.

"He came out and said, 'I'm Bob Ballard and I discovered the Titanic,'" said Jeff Byrd, electric distribution engineer for Greenville Utilities. "He said several crews had already looked at his outage and left during the week."

The team consisted of 36 people from Greenville Utilities, four employees from Asplundh Tree Service and eight from the city of Kinston. Trucks left North Carolina Oct. 30, and traveled 500 miles to Waterford, Conn.

"[Connecticut Light and Power] said they didn't have the equipment to take care of Ballard's neighborhood," Byrd said. "They just said it was too hard for them."

When power was restored, Ballard gave the crew free National Geographic DVDs of his latest ocean expedition. Team members said the world-famous explorer was gracious, and appreciative that the North Carolina crew got the job done.

The utility workers arrived back from the Northeast Friday afternoon. Power outages increased Wednesday, as a nor'easter hit the New York metropolitan area.

Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating reported 1,074 outages Thursday morning, due to heavy snow and storm surge from the Long Island Sound. The companies replaced 1,000 poles, 100 miles of power lines and 2,400 transformers.

According to the Energy Information Administration, almost one million people are without power from Hurricane Sandy, 12 days after the storm made landfall in New Jersey Oct. 29.