Florida power companies working 16+ hours to restore grid in Puerto Rico

We're hearing from crews on ground for first time
Posted at 6:53 PM, Jan 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-19 18:53:03-05

It's been four months since Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico and still only about 63% of the island has had their power restored. That means about 1.5 million Americans are still in the dark. The estimate from the U.S Army Corps of Engineers is mid-March before most of the island will be restored.

Today we're hearing from the Florida power companies with boots on the ground working to change that.

For Duke Energy employees, this weekend marks one week down in the Island of Enchantment and at least three more to go. But this is no vacation. It's grueling 16 hour work days ahead for crews of Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy and TECO.

"I can go down there and help and I want to be there," said Duke employee John Rivera, "It's devastating to see that no matter where it is but it really hits home when your family is involved."
Rivera 's parents are Puerto Rican. He still has family on the island. That's why he volunteered as quickly as possible to help restore the power grid in his motherland.

"It's needed very bad I mean they've been without power without some time," he said. "They really need it to move on with their life and get passed Maria."

The startling images of destruction in turn are inspiring others like him.

"It's kind of special to me to be able to work in my hometown, in my backyard and help Puerto Ricans get back together," said Armando Ortiz who is from the island.

Even for those who have no ties to island, they've come to understand the resiliency of its people.

"I ask people 'Do you have power?' and they say 'Oh, no no' and they just manage through it and it's impressive," said Jimmy Guzman. He runs logistics for Duke Energy. On the island he's making sure crews have the resources they need and that they are comfortable and safe.

"They [Puerto Ricans] come out and express their gratitude many times by saying thank you and shaking our hands and even offering to serve us meals at times." he said.

It's been 113 days without power and counting but these workers want you to know one thing:

"Puerto Rico se levanta. That's all I have to say." said Ortiz.

It's just another day closer for Puerto Rico to rise once more.