Earlier today multiple power companies and tree clearing organizations were rallying in South Florida to begin the long convoy back home. Our CERT team knew we could not thank them all, there were/are over 60,000 people in the Florida power recovery effort, but we darned sure were going to try and thank as many as possible.
~”The Largest Power Restoration Effort in U.S. History”~
There are still areas in Florida where the power grid is being rebuilt and restored, however the vast majority of the work in SWFL (Marco Island, Naples, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Sanibel, Cape Coral, Collier and Lee Counties) is finished. At this stage of completion the power and tree crews who came to assist head back to their home state and region. Many of them began that trek home today.
There is no way to adequately outline the dedication we have witnessed in the impact zone from these incredible men and women and their traveling support groups. Unless you actually witness them in action it’s indescribable. Working 24/7 for two straight weeks, through intense blistering heat, through storms and sheet-rain, through the darkest nights, these crews were jaw-droppingly dedicated to the recovery effort; and this was no-where near home for them.
When I think of them leaving their families for weeks… of them wading through filth and muck to reach the hardest of areas… of the saltwater marsh up to their necks with equipment held over their heads… of the grit and determination…. of the callouses in every handshake and hug… of the colors of every helmet…. day-after-day, night-after-night no quit… well, I ain’t a tender person but damn if their sheer effort just doesn’t drop me to tears of appreciation.
Blazin’ chainsaws… solutions on the fly… engineering stuff and building it with a level of calloused ingenuity that would strike fear into any adversary questioning the strength and backbone of America.
I ain’t kidding you folks, sometimes we just stood there in awe… and we don’t do ‘awe’ easily. These weeks we walked with men whose grit and determination was stunning. The absolute unheralded, and generally invisible, pride of this nation.
Thunder-buckets of gratitude.
According to a news release from Ameren Missouri, crews were part of an army of 60,000 utility workers who mobilized to assist with restoration and recovery efforts. This was the largest power restoration effort in U.S. history.
According to the Edison Electric Institute, at Irma’s peak on Sept. 11, 2017 there were more than 7.8 million Floridians experiencing a disruption in electric service. With the help of mutual assistance, more than 97 percent of impacted residents have had service restored.
In the past two weeks we met people from every state in the nation that came to Florida to help. Some came from small towns, others from major cities. Power crews and tree crews who paired up and shared some of the most ingenious solutions imaginable. Bucket operators, line-men, diggers, fellers, engineers, mechanics, two-man, three-man, four-man crews who expanded and contracted their ranks as the specific need was defined and solution determined.
Sunburned faces with squints as deep as the joy they delivered. From Ohio, Michigan, Montana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, Missouri, Maine, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Kansas, Iowa and every region from the gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border…. from every-single-state. Stunningly incredible people. America.
Convoys of hundreds of power trucks and tree removal trucks were headed back north, back home, today. Single truck crews all the way up to massive metropolitan convoys of 20+, each in a single file waving farewell.
Having crossed paths with so many of them in action, seeing these convoys headed home was emotional. We’re talking hundreds of trucks, maybe thousands, truthfully there’s no way of knowing because they were too numerous to count, and we were only on one small part of a single interstate.
God knows I love this country, there ain’t a finer place in the universe. And to those men and women who keep her tall….
THANK YOU !