SMUD Equipment, Workers Heading to Puerto Rico to Help Recovery Effort

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SACRAMENTO -- Heavy equipment from SMUD is sitting at a port in Louisiana, ready to be shipped to Puerto Rico.

Three months after Hurricane Maria left devastation in its wake, only 55 percent of the island's power has been restored.

"Initially, the main effort was on life saving and taking care of the people in Puerto Rico," SMUD's emergency preparedness manager Jeff Briggs said.

The first wave of assistance came from power utilities on the east coast. Now, the effort involves the whole country -- including Sacramento.

Just before the holidays, 15 pieces of large equipment left the equipment yard in Sacramento. It'll arrive in Puerto Rico on Jan. 18. Following that, SMUD will send two large crews, consisting of 14 volunteers.

"When we asked for volunteers, there probably wasn't a lineman that wasn't willing to go to the island," Briggs said.

Once they arrive, SMUD crews will work 12 hour shifts in the Carolina region, in the northeast corner of the island.

"They will be setting poles, stringing wires, hanging transformers, getting all of the customers back up, and get their power back on," Briggs said.

With the help of all the other power companies, SMUD employees hope to get more than 90 percent of the island connected to power within the next two months.

"One of the things that makes me so proud, when there is a crisis or emergency, how willing our employees are of coming together and resolving and take care of not only the people of Sacramento, but wherever help may be needed," Briggs said.