FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Julie McComb's home on Mosskey Court in Fort Wayne's been without power since last Friday's massive storm.
"I understand. I didn't think [the power company is] saying these people are more important than these people. I know it doesn't work that way," McComb said.
While McComb might not blame Indiana Michigan Power for not having power for six days, it doesn't make surviving in the sweltering heat any easier.
"It was terrible. You just want to sleep and you go to sleep and wake up, wet your hair, go outside, sit in the truck, come back in, try to sleep," she said. "I'm just thankful it's over."
I&M crews were working in her backyard when NewsChannel 15 knocked on her door Thursday afternoon. Our cameras were still there when McComb got the green light to try her own lights.
"Let there be light," she exclaimed after flipping a switch. "This is awesome."
McComb said her house wouldn't get cooler than 85 at night and breezes didn't help much because she didn't have a fan to help it go through the house. She didn't go to cooling centers or leave for long periods of time to try to get relief because she didn't want to leave her two dogs behind in the heat.
"They don't know I did that, but I love them that much," she said.
Her refrigerator is empty, with most of her food at her son's house. She learned that lesson after losing power for four days in the 2008 ice storm and being forced to throw everything out.
When McComb thanked the I&M workers who brought her the long-awaited relief, she got emotional.
"I'm overwhelmed. It's been terrible," she said through tears.
AEP said around 550 workers are all around Allen County trying to get power back on for everyone. Many of them were called in from other AEP service areas to help the local I&M workers.
"As time goes one, we get into smaller and smaller pockets of customers," Kirk Eisert, manager of AEP's South Bend-Elkhart District, said. "We're getting into 10, 20 customers, down to one customer at a time."
The heat is creating complications for the crews too.
"We have to take more precautions in this heat," Eisert said. "If you can imagine going out and exercising in 100 degree heat for a couple of hours straight, you have the risk of dehydration and lots of issues to think about."
To prevent overheating, crews are taking breaks every 20 to 30 minutes to cool off and drink water. I&M expects work to continue into the weekend to get everyone's power back online.
"We just ask for continued patience with us as we continue to go through the effort," Eisert said.
The sheer magnitude of the damage is what's making power restoration take so long. Each power pole replacement can take three to four hours and Eisert said nearly 300 poles had to be replaced around Fort Wayne.
"This is one of the biggest storms we've had," he said. "It's far-reaching too. Within the AEP footprint, we started out with more than a million customers out. There are still hundreds of thousands out in Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia, so it's likely that after the guys are done here, we'll move [to those areas to help]."
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