TVA helped restore electricity in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
Being away from his family for 45 days was difficult, but one TVA engineer says it was worth the satisfaction of helping others.
Last September Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. When TVA engineer Jeff Phillips arrived four months later to help, almost half the island still had no electricity.
"No matter which way you looked there was damage. There were trees still down, no vegetation in a lot of the trees, limbs ripped off," recalls Phillips. "There were power lines and poles down all over the island."
Many of the downed power lines had been covered by plant overgrowth.
"A lot of times it was up to me to help reroute the line along the road or put in different, new structures. Something along that line," adds Phillips.
He prepared for the job by learning the lay of the land and researching the local power system. He was also fortunate to have found someone to help him overcome the language barrier. He and the other team members worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week to help get power up and running.
Phillips says the highlight of the mission was helping the Lopez family whose 18-year-old son, Javier, has been on life support and bedridden for a many years.
"They had been living off of generators for five months at that time. They had used all their money and resources trying to keep their son alive. So once we found that it became an immediate priority," says Phillips.
It's the personal connections that Phillips says he'll never forget, as well the sound of cheering in the streets once the lights came back on in each neighborhood.
Being away from his family for 45 days was difficult, but worth the satisfaction of helping others.
"I'd go do it again in a heartbeat," says Phillips. "I'm glad I got to go serve the people Puerto Rico and use the knowledge and experience I had at TVA."