PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Nearly 48,000 people are still without power in Louisiana two and a half weeks after Hurricane Ida ripped through the state. Local power crews are just returning to Tampa Bay after helping to restore power to thousands of people.
Hurricane Ida was the most powerful storm to ravage Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina. The storm left nearly a million people without power.
“Some of these people in Louisiana were told it’ll be the end of the month before we get you power. That breaks my heart for them because what do you do for a month to get normalcy back into your life?” questioned Duke County Senior Engineering Technologist Joel Good.
Good, who is based out of Duke Energy Company’s Operations Building in Pasco County, just returned from working 16-hour days for more than two weeks, mostly in Baton Rouge and Thibodaux.
“If we had to work 20 hours, we’d work 20 hours. There are many times where we are very close to getting somebody’s power on, but we must shut down for the day and it just breaks our guys’ hearts. They’re like ‘No, I want to keep going, I want to get these guys back on. I told them I’d have their power back on tonight,” Good explained.
Getting the power back is now a matter of life or death. In Louisiana, state leaders have confirmed 12 people have died of heat-related issues tied to power outages.
“When you think about customers out there who are sitting in the heat and when I say heat, we worked in 105-degree temperatures out there in Louisiana, so for me it’s about helping others,” Good added.
Good’s name suits him. The engineer has made what he estimates to be between 50-60 relief trips, helping with the aftermath of power outages from ice storms to hurricanes. His New Port Richey office is adorned with photos, plaques, and hats marking relief efforts following various storms.
“Some people use the term ‘you guys are superheroes.’ I look at it as though we are there to help other people to ease their plight. It feels really great to be a part of that,” he elaborated.
Good also knows one day other energy crews will return the favor, just as they did during Florida’s darkest year: 2004.
“When I think back to the ‘04 hurricanes- Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, I remember that we had people come down from as far as Canada to help us restore our power,” he explained.
In Louisiana, crews are working to repair 250,000 damaged power poles.
Companies like Duke Energy are donating meals as well. Duke Energy donated $1 million worth of meals and materials to United Way of Southeast Louisiana to assist in Hurricane Ida relief. The company delivered several semi-truck loads of meals and COVID personal safety items, which included thousands of masks, hand sanitizers, and other personal protective equipment to community partners in Louisiana.
Good is already looking ahead to his next relief trip, knowing every mission is making a difference.
“That’s what recharges our batteries is to see them get their power on. We left a Louisiana that is still very broken and there are still miles and miles of wire down so it will take some time,” he added.