DENVER (CBS4/AP) – Xcel Energy crews departed on Wednesday morning from the central Denver distribution center on what will be a long trip east to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Nearly 40 employees are traveling in a caravan that includes 22 Xcel vehicles. They are headed to Charleston, W. Va., to help American Electric Power — a “sister utility” — restore power.

It’s expected the trip to West Virginia will take three days. Hundreds of thousands of customers in that area lost power after Sandy, which was a category 1 storm by the time it reached West Virginia, collided with a storm system that was chugging east and dropping heavy snow. About two feet of snow fell, and more is expected.

“(The crews) will do a lot of things we would do here,” Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz told CBS4. “There are a lot of power poles to be replaced, so some of the equipment will help with that and with digging holes. We’ll be taking some of the bucket trucks that allow our workers to get up there and re-string the wires.”

Stutz said the Xcel workers from Denver were chosen to help with the West Virginia situation in part because of their regular dealings with outages caused by snow.

“A lot of what we’ll be doing is the distribution work, the restoration of the systems that take the power to the homes and businesses of Charleston.”

Xcel crews aren’t the only ones from Colorado who are helping out in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. A team from the American Red Cross’s Mile High Chapter are already on the East Coast helping with recovery efforts.

RELATED: Colorado Relief Organizations Mobilize To Help Hurricane Victims

Also, some paramedics from the Pikes Peak region are helping with New Jersey’s search and rescue missions. American Medical Response had six medics from Colorado Springs and three more from Pueblo in place at Fort Dix in central New Jersey before the storm hit land.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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