Team Heads to Puerto Rico for Power Restoration

Volunteer Workers from Minnesota Power and SWLP will Leave Late Next Week, Spending at Least One Month in Puerto Rico

DULUTH, Minn. – It was back on September 7th when a group of Minnesota Power and Superior Water Light and Power workers chose to volunteer their time to head south, aiding in power restoration efforts in Florida after Hurricane Irma left millions without electricity.

Nearly five months after Hurricane Maria slammed into the island of Puerto Rico, recovery and restoration still continues.

“We just know how to build line, we know that we can make a difference if it’s all coordinated right,” said Mike Stingle, a Line worker for Minnesota Power.

Wednesday morning a group of nearly 20 workers from both Minnesota Power and SWLP came together to prepare for their next mission.

To help those recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, all of these hardworking folks are choosing to volunteer their time to travel many miles away.

Organizers say coordination is important, so when the group arrives next week they can hit the ground running and help the Puerto Rico Electric Power
Authority for at least one month.

“When I got word that we were going to have an opportunity to possibly send some guys down there, I thought, this is a no brainer I’m in,” said Stingle.

For Operations Supervisor Dean Erdman, his task will be a matter of making sure jobs are lined up for the line workers, knowing where the nearest medical facility is and even providing the crew with water and food to stay strong.

Erdman has a friend back home in Little Falls who grew up in Puerto Rico.

His crew will be stationed in this same town.

As Erdman prepares to leave, he says his friend is full of good advice and gratitude.

“If they can get their lives back up and running with the power instead of just sending money over there, they need the help to rebuild, not just the money to rebuild,” said Erdman.

Both Minnesota Power and SWLP aren’t the only two companies providing help in Puerto Rico power restorations.

Minnesota Power officials say hundreds of other companies are also volunteering their time and equipment.

The crew is set to leave late next week.

Trips like this are typically only two weeks long, however this one will be a minimum of 30 days.

The group will be stationed in the western part of Puerto Rico.

The group will take their trucks and equipment on a barge to Puerto Rico.

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