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Utility Crews Reflect on Hurricane Relief Trip

September 26, 2017 07:17 PM

(ABC 6 News)--Utility crews from Rochester and Austin are sharing their stories of working in Florida after Hurricane Irma.
 
On September 9th, four Rochester Public Utility workers drove down to Florida.
 
"Majority of the group here as linemen actually really wanted to go," said RPU Lineman, Todd Keach.
 
The linemen saying their work day was usually working 16 hour days.
 
"Longest day was when we showed up to Kissimmee, right?" asked one RPU lineman.
 
"Yeah, that was 19 or so," responded another RPU lineman.
 
The determination to help people pushed them through the long hours.
 
"You know when we drove in; you could just see the relief on them, on their shoulders that we were driving through coming there. The guys are just happy that somebody is here to help," Keach said.
 
RPU was working alongside crews from more than 15 other Minnesota municipal utilities, including three linemen from Austin.
 
"You know it's a once in a lifetime opportunity for me," said lead line worker for Austin Utilities, Steve Tiegs.
 
The restoration effort began in Kissimmee.
 
"We got Kissimmee back with their lights on 100% within two days," Tiegs said.
 
The lineman then moving to Lake Worth, Florida, an area previously hit hard by Hurricane Irma.
 
"By the time we had gotten down there they had been without power for almost seven days and there was literally people running up to the trucks wanting their lights turned on," said Tiegs.
 
When the men would stop to do work, they experienced neighbors they weren't ordered to help ask for help.
 
"We would stop and communicate with them and get the okay and get them back on," Tiegs said.
 
Now, all the men are safely home.
 
"I think we were all a little upset when we got released because we knew some people were still out, but once we got heading home we wanted to be home," said RPU lineman, Chuck Floeter. 

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