DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — After Hurricane Ian slammed the southwestern coast of Florida, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative put their six-man crew en route Thursday to help pick up the pieces.
The linemen arrived at Peace River just north of Fort Myers Friday morning and that afternoon is when they put their boots on the ground.
“Lot of damage they saw driving in close, high waters, trees, poles, really the flooding,” Brad Kimbo said.
In fact, the river reached a record high water level between Thursday night and Friday morning. Some crews planning to go down to help were forced to stay home.
“They can’t get in some areas because of the conditions and some are still on the rise that’s the biggest challenge,” Kimbro said.
Ultimately, the biggest challenge remains getting power restored.
“The way you restore you have to start from your substation out its fed by transmission so transmission lines have to be re-energized. It’s not going to happen overnight it will take weeks to get this back up,” Kimbro said.
Wiregrass Electric is one of four electric cooperatives from Alabama helping restore power. Peace River Cooperative serves the area south of Tampa, Orlando, and Lakeland which is 55,000 meters that’s double what Wiregrass Electric serves at home.
Kimbro says he’s been in touch with the guys consistently and some have been overwhelmed with the amount of damage the storm has caused compared to others.
He says their job is a calling — linemen are working 16-18 hours a day putting themselves in dangerous situations, but it’s rewarding to help people.
“People appreciate what they do when you experience a storm as we did, what Florida is going through, they are unsung heroes they are first responders,” Kimbro added.
Kimbro said his group will stay down there for about two weeks and they will switch out regularly.