For FPL engineer, restoring power to Puerto Rico is personal

Three FPL barges with power trucks, equipment heading to the island

By Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor

SANFORD, Fla. - Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico more than three months ago, but employees at Florida Power & Light know the recovery mission is far from complete.

Three barges loaded with FPL equipment headed to Puerto Rico last week, and not too far behind them are 140 employees are getting ready to go to for the island next week to help restore power. 

The FPL crew are part of a nearly 1,500-person contingency of electric workers scheduled to arrive in Puerto Rico in early January.

"It's really a thrilling experience for me to go back and help them in their time of need," FPL engineer Frank Pueyo said.

For Pueyo, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, this is a personal mission. Pueyo said he still has family there and he hasn't seen them since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September.
 
"It was really hard to see. I'm not going to lie," he said. "It was really tough to see, just wondering if my family was OK. That's the first thing that comes through your mind."
 
Pueyo is joining the linemen and restoration employees who are expected to work around-the-clock restoring power to Puerto Rico.

According to the latest numbers, the government said approximately 55 percent of customers have power. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects that the entire island will be back up and running by May.

Pueyo said people have to be patient. He's hoping employees will start getting results as soon as they get to the island.

"Once we start rolling, they're really going to see the difference," he said.

But Pueyo is not underestimating how big the job will be.

"It's going to be a huge challenge for us. We're ready for it. We know it's possible," he said.

Pueyo said the crew will stay as long as it takes to get the lights back on and people's lives back to normal.

"These guys are really excited to go there and make a difference," he said. "It's in their hearts. It's about giving back to the community."

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