After Irma, WPS worker talks about the enormous task of restoring power
by Gabrielle Mays, FOX 11 News | Wednesday, September 27th 2017
Among them, two dozen from Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) who said it was different from what they’re used to.
WPS is an unfamiliar name in the South, but when you’re in the business of restoring power, that’s what people remember most.
“They saw the Wisconsin license plates on the trucks so they started to thank us for the travel that we put in and the time we put in to come down and help out,” said Jon Joanis.
Joanis and 23 other utility workers spent 11 days in Florida and Georgia.
“It was tough. You feel for them,” he said.
The utility workers’ 16-hour days included flooded streets, downed trees and power lines.
“The one lady in Georgia that I was talking to, like I said, she had wires down about… she had them on the ground and she there’s about three, four feet in the air and she couldn’t leave her driveway for a week,” Joanis said. “You’re wading through water but that water’s got displaced snakes, alligators and all these other creatures that aren’t normally there are there now.”
Joanis says thankfully no one had any run-ins with gators or snakes. But they did have to avoid ants.
“We found some piles of fire ants,” he said.
When Joanis wasn’t working, he spent some time eating and resting.
“They would have trailers with bunks in the. So basically it was 16 guys to a trailer and they had shower trailers and bathroom trailers,” Jonias said.
Despite the heat, humidity and loss of power, Joanis ran into plenty of thankful people.
“We’d go to a gas station and somewhere to get some food and everybody would come up and give you a handshake or pat you on the back and say thank you for coming,” he said.