PASCO COUNTY, Florida – Nearly 48,000 people in Louisiana are still without power two and a half weeks after Hurricane Ida. Local energy teams are just returning to Tampa Bay after helping power thousands of people.
Hurricane Ida was the strongest storm since Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Louisiana. The storm left nearly a million people without electricity.
â€œSome of these people in Louisiana have been told it will be the end of the month before we give you power. It breaks my heart for her because what are you doing for a month to bring your life back to normal? â€Asked Duke County Senior Engineering Technologist Joel Good.
Good, who is based in the Duke Energy Company’s operations building in Pasco County, has just returned from a 16-hour day for more than two weeks, mostly in Baton Rouge and Thibodaux.
â€œIf we had to work 20 hours, we would work 20 hours. There are many times that we are close to powering someone up, but we have to switch off for the day and it just breaks our boys’ hearts. They say, ‘No, I want to move on, I want to put these guys back on. I told them I had power back tonight, â€said Good.
Restoring electricity is now a matter of life and death. In Louisiana, leaders have confirmed that 12 people have died from heat problems related to power outages.
“When you think of customers out there sitting in the heat, and when I say heat, we worked out in Louisiana at 105 degrees, so my goal is to help others,” added Good.
Goods name suits him. The engineer has made an estimated 50-60 relief trips, helping with the aftermath of power outages ranging from ice storms to hurricanes. His New Port Richey office is adorned with photos, plaques and hats indicating relief efforts after various storms.
â€œSome people use the term ‘you are superheroes’. I see it as if we are there to help other people alleviate their plight. It feels really great to be a part of it, â€he explained.
Gut also knows that one day other energy crews will return the favor, just as they did in Florida’s darkest year: 2004.
“When I think back to the 2004 hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, I remember people from Canada coming to help us restore our power,” he said.
In Louisiana, crews are working to repair 250,000 damaged electricity pylons.
Companies like Duke Energy also donate meals. Duke Energy donated $ 1 million worth of meals and supplies to the United Way of Southeast Louisiana to help aid Hurricane Ida. The company shipped multiple truckloads of meals and personal COVID safety items, including thousands of masks, hand sanitizer, and other personal protective equipment, to community partners in Louisiana.
Good is already looking forward to his next journey to help and knows that every mission makes a difference.
â€œThis is what charges our batteries by seeing how they get their energy. We left a Louisiana that is still very broken and there are still miles of cables out there so it will take some time, â€he added.