Lakeland Electric crew helping restore power to Puerto Rico

By Rick Elmhorst, Anchor/Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, November 16, 2017, 7:20 AM EST

Linemen from Lakeland Electric are playing a vital role in getting electrical power restored in Puerto Rico.

  • Linemen, other crew members on island since last month
  • Started work in, around city of Manati
  • Lakeland Electric may send second crew

Sixteen linemen and several other crew members have been on the island since late last month.

Crews from the utility loaded up trailers with heavy equipment, took it to Jacksonville, then loaded it on barges so it could be transported to Puerto Rico. The linemen themselves flew on a private jet.

They landed in San Juan and started their work in and around the city of Manati. Later, they started replacing downed power poles and lines in Caguas.

One of the obstacles to progress has been a shortage of replacement equipment.

“Like the poles and the wire," said Lakeland Electric spokesperson Cindy Clemmons. "Because as you can imagine, the entire system is gone. They can’t just take what broke and put it back up. They actually have to replace it.“

The crew often works in areas where there aren't working communications systems, so keeping in touch with friends and family back home can be difficult. But they have been able to sleep in air-conditioned rooms and feel like they are doing something important.

“I think they are feeling really positive," said Clemmons. "That’s the thing about our linemen. They want to go down there and make a difference, and that’s what they are doing, so they are happy.”

The crew was only expected to stay in Puerto Rico for 30 days, so the should return to Lakeland in about a week. However, Lakeland Electric may send a second crew.

Photo courtesy Lakeland Electric