ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - 61 Duke Energy workers left from the Million Air terminal at Orlando-Sanford International Airport, Sunday morning, bound for Puerto Rico, to continue rebuilding their damaged power grid, following Hurricane Maria.
“It’s what we do, we love doing it, restoring power. I think we can make a big difference when we get there,” said Tommie Parker, a construction and maintenance supervisor, “we have a lot of talent going these guys are real good at what they do.”
The group that's leaving from Sanford is part of a larger group of more than 200 Duke workers from across the country who are helping in the rebuilding effort.
“It’s exciting to go over and help out like we do. It’s what we do here and it’s the thing we are going to do when we go over there,” Parker said.
The Duke team is part of a 1,500-strong squad of workers from power companies across the US repairing Puerto Rico's electrical infrastructure, which was damaged by Maria. Last weekend, the company sent barges loaded with their trucks and heavy equipment to the island.
“This is a humanitarian effort and we're helping re-power the island,” supervisor Doug Everhart said, “by the time we get there the people of Puerto Rico will be without power close to four months at that time.”
While they're proud of the work they're doing, it's tough for the families these workers leave behind.
“A little bittersweet because this is the longest we’ve had him gone,” said Patricia Mathis, about her husband Roy, “but we know that he’s doing a great thing so we’re just going to buckle down and do what we have to do until he comes back.”
Duke says the workers will stay on the island for 30 to 45 days, depending on the work they need to get done.