DES MOINES - Mitch Langschwager, an electric lineman with the Aurelia Municipal Electric Utility, was among a number of Iowa utility workers honored recently by Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds in a special ceremony at the State Capitol.
Langschwager was among representatives of five municipal utilities in Iowa that responded to the east coast in November, 2012 following Hurricane Sandy to assist with restoration of power to thousands of affected residents.
The two non-union workers were initially unsure if they would be allowed to contribute to the volunteer force in the stricken areas. "We didn't even know if we'd be taken seriously, us two non-union guys wanting to come in. But they said they needed all the help they could get," said Sether.
Sether and Langschwager were placed on a team with fellow linemen from Minnesota and Canada and worked to restore many downed overhead electric lines and utility poles during a trip that spanned about 10 days. The arrival of a Nor 'Easter storm a few days after Hurricane Sandy dropped snow on the area and added further challenges to the work, with some electric lines falling for a second time.
"It was an experience," said Langschwager of the time in New York, which, though rewarding, was also at times difficult, especially in regard to living accommodations. The pair eventually ended up staying at a local fire station, which they said was a big improvement over government-supplied housing for utility workers.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Gov. Branstad told the utility staffers, "We are proud of you, and the whole state of Iowa is proud of the great services and the great way you represented our state in helping out fellow Americans on the east coast."
Lt. Gov. Reynolds said, "I also think it's very fitting that we are hosting this event today on the first day of the legislative session. It is a reminder to all of us and all lawmakers coming to Des Moines that Iowans are sincere, hardworking people who take pride in the work that they do and are willing to offer a helping hand to those in need."