ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — More than 40 percent of Puerto Rico’s power customers remain in the dark, nearly four months after Category 4 Hurricane Maria hit the island.
“The island is completely destroyed. There is no power,” said Armando Ortis, an equipment operator for Duke Energy.
Ortis knows the heartbreak the people of Puerto Rico are going through. His family, including his mother, daughter and grandson live there. While they are OK, Ortis knows many aren’t as lucky.
“They are without power, they are without water. Some people are going without food,” he said.
Which is why he is going back. Ortis is one of 108 Duke Energy workers who left for Puerto Rico on Sunday. Forty-seven workers left from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and another 61 left from Orlando.
The Duke Energy team will join people from several U.S. electric companies deploying resources to support the effort – a total of nearly 1,500 additional restoration workers.
The workers will join the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which have had incident management teams on the island since early December completing damage assessments of Puerto Rico’s energy grid and developing a coordinated restoration plan.
Hurricane Maria caused an estimated $95 billion in damage, and killed dozens of people.