Kissimmee Utility Authority lineworkers last week headed to Puerto Rico to assist with Hurricane Maria power restoration efforts.
The utility signed a work contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings, the contractor hired by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to rebuild its infrastructure. Last Wednesday, a small convoy of KUA service vehicles left Kissimmee for the Port of Jacksonville where overnight they were loaded onto a shipping barge which departs today for Puerto Rico. The journey by sea took five days.
KUA linemen flew from Orlando to San Juan last Tuesday where they were to meet their trucks and begin restoration work. The crews will remain in Puerto Rico for 30 days.
The task before them is huge: 84 percent of the country is still without electricity. The most recent infrastructure report from the island shows that more than 50,000 utility poles need to be replaced and 6,500 miles of cable must be restrung – the distance from Kissimmee to Cairo, Egypt.
“As you can imagine, this mutual aid mission is unlike any we have participated in before,” said KUA president and general manager Jim Welsh. “After assisting in Orlando and Lakeland after Hurricane Irma, our community can take pride in knowing that our crews are on the move once again to help those in need.”
hose assisting with the mutual aid effort are:
Robert Diaz – Lineman First Class
Kevon McKinsey – Lineman
Tony Nasco – Lineman
Angel Quiles – Facilities Maintenance Worker
Shane Paras – Lead Lineman
Luis Santiago – Line Crew Supervisor
According to last Monday’s restoration report from the U.S. Department of Energy, 86.3 percent of Puerto Rico or 2.9 million residents were still without electricity. To date, 235 of 1,106 transmission lines had been energized, and 115 of 342 substations were operational. More than 50,000 utility poles on the island need to be replaced and 6,500 miles of cable must be restrung – the distance from Kissimmee to Cairo, Egypt.
Puerto Rico holds a special place in the heart of many Kissimmee residents. The number of Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin living in Florida is more than one million, with the highest number (31 percent) living in the Orlando-Kissimmee metro region, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.