Oncor workers return after restoring power to thousands in Puerto Rico

Updated: Mar. 6, 2018 at 11:06 PM CST
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TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Last month, we introduced you to a new Oncor crew heading to Puerto Rico to help restore power. Now both crews are back home after restoring power to more than 4,000 people.

The crews have been working 16 hours a day for 7 days a week, for almost 45 days.

"Probably some of the hardest work I've ever done in my life," distribution crew supervisor Andrew Luce said.

Working in unfamiliar terrain, Oncor linemen say they learned to adapt quickly to their surroundings.

"You get up in them mountains and it's a whole different beast," Oncor apprentice lineman Erick Vann said. "Poles are 200 yards apart, but you got to walk three miles to get to the other poles."

But the linemen say at the end of the day, their hard work was worth seeing power restored to residents.

"Man, they were just so glad and so appreciative for what we were down there doing," Luce said.

Working long days with the same mindset they have at home.

"Every light on and we don't stop until they come on," Luce said.  

The mantra that helped the linemen restore power to 95-percent of their assigned area on the island.

"When you spend three days working on one line and you finally get it all in the air and get ready to heat it back up," Vann said. "All that hard work and sweat and the agony of 'oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm here,' it all went out the window when you heated that line back up and you could hear people for miles cheering."  

That was a sound Oncor linemen say could never be forgotten.

"I think I can speak for everyone when I say the broad spectrum of emotions you feel in a situation like that," Luce said. "There's nothing that compares to it."

But as their time on the island came to an end, the linemen say it was not easy to leave Puerto Rico behind.

"For some, it brings a tear to your eye; you knew there wasn't gonna be a second wave and some of those people knew there wasn't gonna be anybody behind you and they'd be like 'hey, thank you for coming,'" Vann said. "His lights were still out, but he was just glad we were there, he was glad we tried."

What the Oncor workers call a humanitarian act they say is an experience that has been life changing.

"It was a joyful experience to come back here and return to family and the day-to-day work we have here, but at the same time it is, it's on the back of your mind," Luce said. "What's going on back there, is anybody out there working on that line?"

According to Oncor, around 80 to 85 percent of Puerto Rico's power has been restored.

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