Iowans help bring power back to Florida

Crews deployed for at least two weeks

FLORIDA - Irma is now out of Florida - but has left millions of people without power. Crews from Iowa are now helping bring the state back online.

The storm has moved to Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. As of Monday evening, around two million people are getting the lights turned back on after being in the dark for more than two days. Still, one of the biggest issues facing Floridians right now are the massive power outages.

At one point, around six and a half million people throughout Florida were in the dark. But crews from across the country, including here in Iowa, are doing their part to help out.

Days after Irma barrelled through the West coast of Florida, power lines still litter the ground, and transformers are still broken due to the high winds. Millions of people are still without power.

"Everybody needs electricity," said Lane Sether, the Electric Superintendent with Lake Park Municipal Utilities.

Sether is from Lake Park, Iowa and is helping restore power in Moore Haven, Florida -- an entire community that is currently in the dark.

"We'll be assisting their two linemen they have in town there," Sether said. "A crew of only two linemen in a town of 1,600 like we're going to, it'd probably take them a week and a half, two weeks to get power up to everybody else, where I'm hoping we can do it in a few days."

Larger crews from Iowa, including a group of Alliant Energy employees, are also on the way to help. The Alliant Energy crews left for Florida early Tuesday morning.

"Whether it's a storm here in Iowa, or Wisconsin, or whether it's a hurricane in Florida, they take a lot of pride in the work that they do," said Dee Brown with Alliant Energy. "It's a profession that they just really enjoy, and they take a lot of pride in getting customers back in power."

Alliant Energy says they are part of the one of the largest electric industry responses to a storm, which includes several state utilities going to Florida. The damage is still uncertain, with some power grids needing repairs and others being rebuilt from scratch. But even with them restored, it will not matter until the destroyed buildings are fixed.

Still, even in the extreme darkness, Iowans are willing to lend a hand.

"They do it for us and when we have the opportunity, we like to do it for them," Brown said. "We will, because it's all about restoring power for all of our customers."

But linemen like Sether say that will take some time.

"As soon as we get this town up and running, we will be sent to another community, either in the area or on our way back," Sether said.

Crews from Iowa say they will be down in Florida for at least two weeks, maybe longer. The timeline is not concrete because they are still assessing the damage.


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