Jacksonville - JEA is sending crews to the storm ravaged of Puerto Rico to help restore power on the island and help to rebuild the electrical infrastructure following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Last week the utility company and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority started coming up with a plan for JEA to help with reconstruction of the island’s power grid.
One man heading out to help is Matt Stafford, who is a 22-year veteran with JEA and a linecrew supervisor. He says he volunteered to head over after he prayed with his wife, and he says the decision to leave felt good.
“I’m gonna go over there and see what I can do for the people of Puerto Rico.” Stafford says.
Stafford says he volunteered because the people need help.
“There is a lady, her name is Gloria at our church, and I know she’s got a mother and a brother that’s there and she finally made contact with them, and found out that they were alive and that they made it through the storm. I see how it touches other people’s lives and, I mean, I’ve got a special set of skills that I can use and help people, and that’s what we do.” Stafford says.
JEA vehicles have already left and the crews will be getting the equipment once they get to the island.
Stafford says him and his crew expect to see a lot of devastation once they get to the island.
“I’ve told the guys, ya know, to be prepared to see things. You never know what’s gonna turn up.” Stafford says.
He says he’s tried to prepare his crew for whatever might happen.
“We may come across areas that nobody’s been in yet, and you never know what to expect.” Stafford says.
Once the crews make it on to the island they will need to get a lay of the land before they can start restoring power. Stafford says they will need to look at maps of the area and circuit maps.
“As far as the electrical grid is concerned, we’ve heard that it’s pretty much in dire straits, so ya know nothing like what we’ve encountered here.” Stafford says.
He says it will be just like restoring power here in Jacksonville, expect on a much larger scale. The crew Stafford will be working with is not sure exactly where they will be stationed, but he did know it will be somewhere outside of San Juan. They will be staying in a hotel that has power.
JEA says they will have the first crew of workers on the island for 30 days and will rotate the workers out once that period is over. JEA has resources committed for 90 days.
“I’m preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.” Stafford says.