Shawn Cleary has seen the power of Mother Nature countless times.

For 39 years, the vice president of Groveport City Council has helped coordinate power-restoration efforts for American Electric Power following hurricanes, ice storms, derechos and more.

The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is one of the worst he's encountered.

"You can't describe it," Cleary said during a Sept. 7 phone interview from Corpus Christi, Texas. "I went out to the airport near Rockport. ... Home after home was just crushed. It was so overwhelming that I stopped taking video because it was really starting to bother me."

Cleary, a fleet and supply-chain deputy director, helps with logistics and assures crew members have the power poles, electric lines and other materials needed to turn the lights back on.

Corpus Christi and the surrounding areas along the Gulf Coast were still experiencing the most outages from Hurricane Harvey late last week. AEP credited assistance from out-of-state workers for helping restore power.

"Thousands of resources have arrived from across the country to help AEP Texas with restoration efforts following this historic weather event," AEP said in a statement.

"Crews from Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and other states have arrived and are working on restoring power to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey."

As many as 220,000 AEP customers lost power during Hurricane Harvey. Some areas were hit harder than others.

"I was on a road into Padre Island and they had lost the entire set of poles," Cleary said. "It was the first time in my career I had seen 74 bucket trucks working to string wire. That's unheard of."

Cleary arrived in Texas on the morning of Aug. 31 and was due to depart Sept. 11 in preparation for Hurricane Irma's arrival in Florida.

In the AEP Texas territory, the storm knocked down at least 3,100 distribution poles and damaged or destroyed 500 transmission structures, maybe more.

More than 6,000 crew members were working long days during the restoration efforts, Cleary said. Generators were powering hotels for housing.

The job isn't easy and can be dangerous. A lineman working for T&D Solutions was fatally injured Sept. 5 while working to restore power in Bloomington, Texas.

While recovery takes time, Cleary knows how rewarding his job can be.

"When they give you a hug for 'thank you for coming,' it means a lot," he said.

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