20 Lakeland Electric workers take flight to help rebuild Puerto Rico's grid

The linemen say their experiences after Irma will help them aid the island's residents.

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The long road -- or flight, rather -- began Sunday for 20 Lakeland Electric workers leaving for Puerto Rico.

They will be helping restore power for the next month to the island, where thousands still remain without power after Hurricane Maria. The linemen flew out on two 10-passenger charter flights that departed from Orlando Executive Airport.

The first flight left at 8 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, and the second one later in the afternoon.

More: Puerto Rico's governor demands terminating power contract with small Montana company

Veteran Doug Bergwall has been with the company for eight years. He volunteered to go the island since he has experience restoring power after severe storms.

"Irma was an experience," Bergwall said. "We had a lot of people without power here in Lakeland and we got them on as fast as we can.

"The same safety practices we used, we’re talking the same thing to Puerto Rico to help those people."

He along with his fellow co-workers said their goodbyes to family.

Crews were only allowed to bring 50 pounds worth of personal belongings, which meant many couldn’t bring their gear. Lakeland Electric will be flying a plane filled with tools to the island, so workers can use the equipment needed to handle the situation in Puerto Rico.

Once crews arrive in San Juan, they will be transported to the Verdanza Hotel for a safety briefing before leaving to Manati, which is about a 40-minute drive.

Linemen will be working on that section of the island until future notice.

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