Oklahoma electric crews are heading to Puerto Rico, three months after Hurricane Maria. Most of the island's power grid was wiped out in the storm, and local electric workers want to lend a helping hand.
This is the third hurricane relief effort this year for OG&E, but it is gestures like these that come in handy when Mother Nature strikes the Sooner State.
“Whether it’s tornadoes or ice storms, severe thunderstorms, we see significant amounts of damage here,” said OG&E spokesman Brian Alford.
Oklahoma is no stranger to relying on neighbors for help after devastating weather events, so when locals see others in need, they answer the call.
Alford said, “Our crews are among the best in the country and usually one of the first ones called to lend that kind of support. They really love to go and help.”
The devastation in Puerto Rico has been unprecedented. Three months after Hurricane Maria, 30% of the island remains without power. The federal government has installed a record 1,000 generators, breaking its previous record of 310 for Hurricane Katrina.
Those generators are working around the clock to keep some of Puerto Rico's lights on temporarily, as electric crews work around the clock to restore the power for good.
“Power to virtually the entire island was wiped out,” Alford said, “and now they’re really having to rebuild the system, virtually from the ground up.”
OG&E is joining a contingent of 18 power companies sending crews during this round of repairs. Their trucks ship out Thursday Dec. 28, with the first 50 workers heading to the island Jan. 13. They will stay for 20 days before being relieved by the next 50 crew members.
OG&E will still have a fully-staffed workforce across the state during these volatile winter months, with contractors available to help if needed.