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SRP workers return from Sandy assistance

Salt River Project workers are shown after arriving from helping restore power to Long Island after Sandy. (Bob McClay/KTAR)

PHOENIX -- They've been out of town for a few weeks, but now are looking forward to their first night back in their own beds.

Twenty-two Salt River Project workers returned Friday after helping the Sandy relief efforts in New York. They've spent the last two weeks helping to restore power to Long Island.

Donovan Wright saw a lot of damage.

"You could tell there was a lot of high water, which damaged a lot of areas," he said. "Cars were completely submerged, some were strewn around the streets. A couple of houses burned down. There was a lot of sand in the streets."

James Christian called the damage he saw "horrific."

"A lot of places had a four or five feet of water that just lifted the house," he said. "There were cars that were on the ground when it started, but now had three feet of sand underneath them. They would start floating up, and the sand came in from the beach."

Christian said residents were very greatful for the efforts of the utility crews.

"It was the best place I've ever been in on a storm," he said. "We had a lot of people greet us and take care of us, as far as talk us and walk us through their property so that we could get to the job. I would say that the majority of people were incredibly nice to us."

Both Christian and Wright call the two weeks a "worthwhile experience."

About 40 SRP employees are still working in the New York area.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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