PONCE, Puerto Rico (WDTN) – More than five months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria knocked out power on Puero Rico, crews from The Miami Valley are still on the ground working to get the lights back on.
The storms destroyed powerlines and utility poles – knocking out power to the entire island.
Duke Energy lineman supervisor Luis Amaya said the damage is widespread.
“Total devastation,” Amaya said. “I think even after we’re done. They’re going to be working on power lines for the rest of the year and then some.”
Many Puerto Ricans have been without power for months.
“I mean you’ve got kids going to school right now,” Amaya said. “They’re in school without power and when they see your trucks pull up they [say] ‘The Americans are here! The Americans are here!’ And it’s kind of neat. And then you put up the lines, and then you energize them and then they all start yelling, and clapping and it’s like, you know, ‘Thank you so much. We really appreciate it.'”
Luis Amaya is from Monroe, Ohio. He’s been working alongside other crewman from the Ohio area, Indiana, and Kentucky.
He said restoration efforts have been ongoing since the storm. Crews have been working overtime alongside Puerto Ricans to help turn the lights back on.
“We’ve been working 13, 15 hour days. And then we’re working 13 days on, and off for one day. One day of rest and then we’re back at it for 13 days,” Amaya said.
Amaya said the crews in Puero Rico volunteered to go and although it’s a lot of work, they are enjoying the experience. He’s expected to return to Ohio in another two weeks.