NewsLocal News


Duke Energy workers get heroes welcome home after helping restore power in Puerto Rico

Crews restored power to 95 percent of Ponce
Workers return from helping restore power in PR
Posted at 10:53 PM, Mar 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-01 23:19:16-05

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The days and hours were long, hot, and dangerous. But, more than 200 Duke Energy lineman successfully restored power to parts of Puerto Rico still without power after Hurricane Maria.

Some customers in the Southwestern town of Ponce were without power for nearly six months after the hurricane until the Duke Energy crews arrived on the island.

They worked 13 days on with one day off, often working 15-16 hour days.  

“Hard work, rewarding,” Ronnie Bailey said. Bailey is from Wildwood, Florida and couldn’t wait to make the nearly 80 mile trip from St. Pete back home to his family.  Bailey said the people he helped have been through so much but stayed positive through it all.



“I mean four, five, six months without power it is hard to imagine and the way the people treated us… it is mind-blowing,” Bailey said.  

The teams were positioned in some of the mountainous parts of the island where roads were washed out and area were littered with debris.

Some Puerto Rican lineman that grew up in the states said it was their first time on the island. And, for some like Miguel Lugo it was a chance to get a glimpse into his past.


“My grandparents were from over there, from Ponce, it felt good to be over there and visit a place my grandparents are from,” Lugo said.

A blackout hit Puerto Rico's capital and surrounding areas Thursday after two of the U.S. territory's main power plants shut down, a failure that came amid warnings from officials that the power company is struggling to remain operational.

The capital of San Juan was left without power along with the neighboring municipalities of Caguas, Bayamon and Carolina, company spokeswoman Yohari Molina told The Associated Press. More than 970,000 people live in the areas hit by the blackout, though Molina said it wasn't clear how many were affected.

Overall, more than 15 percent of power customers remain in the dark nearly six months after the hurricane, which destroyed two-thirds of the island's power distribution system. Officials have said they expect power to be fully restored by May.