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Customer Affected by Hurricane Irma Expresses Gratitude to Employees

by on October 3, 2017
Willie Noble celebrated 40 years with Appalachian Power on Sept. 6. He is pictured just after returning from Florida and proudly wearing his U.S. Army hat. Photo courtesy Steve Browning and Robbie Arnold.

(Story by Teresa Hall)

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Richard Cabaniss and others were hauling 12 gallons of gasoline a day to his friend’s home to fuel the generator powering his dialysis machine. But 48 hours after Hurricane Irma hit the Tampa Bay area, Cabaniss was growing increasingly worried about his friend’s health. That sense of dread would subside when Cabaniss met an Appalachian Power employee who lives by the Golden Rule.

“Every person and every customer we have is important,” said Willie Noble, who returned home to Bluefield, West Virginia, after working nearly a week in Tampa as an assessor. “Sometimes people just need to be heard and to know that someone cares.”

The simple act of listening had a profound effect on Cabaniss, who not only phoned the AEP Customer Solutions Center to applaud Noble, but also wrote a lengthy email to Appalachian Power praising the company’s nearly 400 employees and contract workers for their power restoration efforts as well.

“We sometimes want to complain and not take the time to say THANK YOU, but I for one want to say a BIG THANK YOU to your crews that came here and also a BIGGER THANK YOU to one of your crew members,” wrote the Florida resident.

Cabaniss’ messages were the result of an encounter in the field with Noble and APCo employee Steve Browning. Cabaniss said he’d repeatedly tried to alert his utility company to the fact his friend had recently undergone a triple bypass and was on a dialysis machine, but that all of his attempts to get someone to listen in-person or over the phone had been unsuccessful until he approached Noble.

“He never once said NO I CAN’T HELP YOU… he never said once, I am sorry, but we can’t help,” wrote Cabaniss, who didn’t get Noble’s name, but said he was wearing a U.S. Army Veteran hat and traveling in a Bluefield, W.Va. utility truck with the Appalachian Power logo. The employee was soon identified as Noble, who spent three years on active duty in the Army and 18 years in the Army reserves. He’s also enjoyed a long career at Appalachian Power; earlier this month Noble celebrated 40 years as a company meter electrician.

Noble said he submitted Cabaniss’ information about his friend to Tampa Electric. “The man was grateful to us, but I wish I could have done more to help,” said Noble who described himself as living by the Golden Rule — treat others as you would want to be treated.

Service to the ailing man’s home was restored in 24 hours. Noble had no way of knowing if his efforts contributed to the power coming back on, but that mattered little to Cabaniss. An employee in the AEP Customer Solutions Center said Cabaniss was so tearful that he could hardly speak when he described his experience with Noble. Cabaniss’ email message was also filled with emotion and gratitude.

“NOT A SELFISH WORD WAS SPOKEN. NO PROMISES were made, just one person listening to me ask for help for my friend,” Cabaniss wrote.

“I want you and management to know, we appreciate the unselfish acts of your company and your employees for their help. God Bless them and your company.”

From → News From AEP

One Comment
  1. God bless Willie for his heart for others!

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