About 2,000 miles separate the Rocky Mountains from Florida’s beaches.
But when Hurricane Irma slammed into the Sunshine State, leaving swaths of the region without power, our Colorado and Wyoming linemen crews didn’t hesitate to volunteer to help.
Nearly 20 of our linemen loaded up their trucks and hit the road. They drove three days to work 14- to 19-hour days for a week and a half to help restore power to Florida residents.
“It was just one of those opportunities to help other people in a time of need,” said Cole Hammond, a journeyman lineman from Canyon City, Colorado. “[It was a chance] to be part of a team that gets hundreds of thousands of people back on — some of whom had been up to 10 days without power.”
The geography and amount of work weren’t the only things the crews had to adjust to.
“The heat and humidity was hard to get used to,” said Nathan Merrill, another journeyman lineman also from Canyon City. “They have different construction, different apparatuses, different materials. We worked on a lot of stuff I’ve never seen before.”
The line crews also had to battle the threat of dehydration.
“[It was challenging] staying hydrated,” Cole said. “If the wind was blowing, it wasn’t so bad. But if it wasn’t, then you’d have to watch yourself for heat exhaustion.”
And then there were the critters.
“We did see some ’gators,” Nathan said. “That was part of the job briefing — look out for all the poisons spiders, snakes, alligators. We were in swamps all the time.”
But for Cole and Nathan, the benefits still outweighed all hurdles.
“It just humbled you, what the people were going through — their challenges and hardships,” Cole said. “But they were just trying put themselves back together.”
Nathan said the most rewarding part of the job was all the thanks from the people whose power they restored.
"There were a lot of happy people to see us coming down there to help out.”
“Yeah, there were a lot of happy people to see us coming down there to help out,” he said.
Many of those happy Floridians took to social media to thank our crews for their efforts.
“From the bottom of my heart here in S Ft Myers Florida … please thank you crew down here helping us recover from Irma!” Amy Sunshine wrote on our Facebook page. “Their dedication and sacrifice brought us hope … AND POWER!! … That is my America … that is love … and we greatly appreciate it!!!”
All told, our crews restored power to about 300,000 people in a week and a half.
“It was pretty cool,” Cole said. “We drove 1,700 miles to run their power on.”