SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Georgia Power was recently honored with the Edison Electric Institute's 2018 Emergency Assistance Award for helping with the power restoration in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Southern Company sent about 3,000 line workers and support personnel to Puerto Rico to help after the hurricane. Juan Madrigal spent a little more than 30 days there, and they were able to get about 3,000 restored with power.
Madrigal said working there was way more challenging than working here in Savannah. Complications with communication and little to no road access to fix power lines and poles, were some of the issues they encountered. Madrigal said ,when they got the order to go help restore power on the island, it was one of the highlights of his career.
"Like with everything else, it takes time to get everything organized and all that, so we all patiently waited and I was one of the lucky ones that got sent to help, and I mean, it feels great. I wish that we could have done more," Madrigal said. "The ones there for the storm was one team, one mission because there were people from all over the place, from all over the country that were working in other parts of the island."
Southern Company came together as a team to provide mutual assistance to Puerto Rico during their time of devastation.
Madrigal said, out of the month they were there, his team worked nearly 16 hours each day.
"There was a lot of clearing paths with a machete and whatever you could get to get your truck where you needed to set it up so you could set a pole or pick up wire, and that was every day, so when the guys got back in the afternoon, they were tired," he said.
Madrigal said those 16 hour days turned into weeks that just blended together because they all worked tirelessly to help another community that was destroyed.
"Some of those folks had been without power for six months, so we didn't really know what to expect from the folks.," he said. "They knew we were there to help, but you still have in the back of your mind, I mean, I don't know. I would still be frustrated but it was the total opposite and they were very thankful that we were there."
He said they didn't expect the Puerto Rican's to show appreciation and remain humble during their time of dramatic loss, but it was an experience where they didn't want to leave until power was 100 percent restored.
As of May 22, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority announced that power had been restored to 99 percent of its customers across the island.