MINNEAPOLIS — All eyes remain on Hurricane Ian as the eye of the storm fixes its gaze towards central and northern Florida, leaving behind a trail of devastation Wednesday for those living in southwest Florida.
Devastation that can be seen outside — and inside — as could be seen in pictures of a leaky roof and towels all of over the floor, which Minnesotan Debi Harman shared with us from her part-time home in Venice, Florida.
“The wind drove the rain into the air vents and my ceiling is dripping with water, I’ve got towels on the floors I’ve got buckets everywhere,” explained Harman over the phone.
More than a million people in Florida remain without power, and officials say it could be weeks before the power grid is restored, even with linemen from across the country lining up to lend a helping hand.
“Very happy to be able to go down and assist those folks,” said Tim Laeupple, Manager of Line Operations with Minnesota Power.
Minnesota Power, which serves northeastern Minnesota, sent a team of 25 to Florida Wednesday morning. They’ll spend the next two weeks working 16-hour days.
“There’s a strong Minnesota-Florida connection,” said Laeupple. “It seems like there’s so many employees, and people that we know in the communities that have connections down in Florida, too, so it’s extra special when we can go down there and help those folks.”
Treading through flooded streets and storm surge, putting their lives on the line for the sake of others.
“Incredibly proud of those employees who stood up and said, Hey, I’ll go and help,’ and all the while sacrificing time away from family and friends and commitments back home just to be able to go help other people in need,” said Laeupple.
Xcel Energy is sending support to Florida for restoration efforts as well.
“When the call for help comes in, Xcel Energy and the entire electric industry answers that call,” said Bob Frenzel, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “When our customers experience adverse conditions, we know that they would do the same for us. It’s imperative that the electric companies work together to ensure the resiliency of our essential product as storm volatility increases.”
The company is providing approximately 270 contract workers who are currently en route. The line workers are from Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico and Texas.