GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Work to restore electricity across Puerto Rico continues today, six months after Hurricane Maria left the island completely without power. Teams from Mississippi Power are helping with the work as infrastructure is replaced and lights are coming back on.
Mississippi Power Vice President of Customer Service and Operations Nicole Faulk knows just how hard a job it is to basically rebuild an entire island's power grid. She coordinates the missions for the teams sent to Puerto Rico.
"There is still a lot of work that will be done," Faulk said. "It's the little bits and pieces to get that island back to the normalcy, but mostly the people and the customers will have power."
She says the crews had to use some unique methods to connect remote communities.
"One of the really neat things, when you're thinking about pulling a line from peak to peak of a mountain, we used drone technology for that, to help us pull that," said Faulk. "Because we didn't have another way of being able to restore that service to these areas that we were in."
Though it was a different type of terrain, the crews worked to restore as much service as they could.
"It was just over 50% I would say when we got there," Faulk said. "There was a lot of transmission work that had to be, generation work, substation work. Not just what we're used to seeing here on the distribution side, but a lot of infrastructure that had to be rebuilt."
Over 60 days on the island, Faulk says a number of inspiring stories have come to light. But one sticks out.
"One of the greatest stories I heard from our team is about getting service back to one of the schools," she said. "Just seeing the kids and the excitement when they got the lights back on and the air conditioning back on was just a phenomenal story to hear."
As the first 10-man-team returns, another has left and will complete a 30-day mission to help fully restore power, which currently stands at about 93 percent. That team is expected back on the Coast sometime in April.