It’s been five months since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. Still, to this day, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans are still in the dark. The hurricane devastated the island’s aging power infrastructure and knocked out power to most homes. Although much progress has been made, some estimates say the power grid on the island won’t be fully restored until late May, eight months after Maria.
Many utilities in the United States have been sending line workers to help with the efforts, including DTE energy here in Detroit. DTE crews have been in Puerto Rico for the past month. Last week, 80 workers came home and another crew of 80 workers left Michigan for Puerto Rico in what DTE calls a “changing of the guard” to help restore power.
Sylvain Castonguay, a DTE Energy general supervisor who just returned from Puerto Rico, speaks with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson about his time on the island.
According to Castonguay, the devastation on Puerto Rico resembles the destruction caused by hurricanes that have hit the coastal U.S. But being on the island was its own experience.
“The catastrophic storm, the way it hit, having utility poles laying around everywhere and the amount of damage is very unique to see that,” he says.
Jamie Shaw, a union representative for IBEW and a linemen for DTE, also joins the show.
“Many of us that were doing work on the island were pretty surprised at…the spirit of the people that were on the island,” says Shaw. “They just treated us wonderful while we were there.”
Click on the audio player above for the full conversation.