They were sent to this little town called Fair Haven, far from home, to fix the electricity in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The workers of Alabama Power had never heard of it. But, in just a few days' time, it became their home, too.
Just over a month later, they were celebrated last night for what very appreciative people in the 1.6-square-mile borough called heroic help in a time of need.
And, in a surprise turn-around move that brought Fair Haven residents and officials to a teary-eyed standing ovation, Alabama Power Company presented a check for $10,000 made out to the American Red Cross to "assist in Sandy recovery efforts" in the area and revive the shores on which their Fair Haven "family" grew up and loves so, Alabama Power Project Leader David Huddleston said as he presented the check.
The gasp-inspiring moment came at the end of a proclamation reading in a special meeting at Knollwood School honoring the hometown heroes.
After spending time working in Fair Haven during Sandy and being welcomed with such warmth, "when it was time to leave, tears were just flooding, 'cause this was my home for those (last) few days," said T.J. Pruitt, one of the power workers, looking over the proclamation.
And the men of the power company called it just that, in their own way — "Sweet Home Fair Haven," just like Alabama.
"We had a 100-year storm on our 100th anniversary," Councilwoman Susan Sorensen said. "Go figure. And then these guys arrived and saved the day. Yes, they became family."
And, as with the forging of many a special lifetime relationship, it "all started with a cup of coffee," said resident Brian Drazin, who helped get the Alabama men fed during their stay.
Then, noted Administrator Theresa Casagrande, there was food: "I was at Fair Haven Fields and I saw this woman starting up the grill. I thought, 'Oh, that poor thing. She's has no power and needs to cook.' So, I left her to it. That was Heather Heard and, it turned out. She was trying to cook for the Alabama Power people. And she did."
That effort grew exponentially into a days-long hospitality event. "It's just what we do," Heard noted about the men's modest response to many a Fair Haven "thank-you" in the cold and tired climate.
"They restored not only our electricity, but, in my mind, our faith and our hope that everything was going to be OK," Heard said.
Take a look at the photos in the gallery for a glimpse into the celebration.