Utility workers return to Wisconsin from Puerto Rico

NOW: Utility workers return to Wisconsin from Puerto Rico

MILWAUKEE, WI (CBS 58 ) – Wisconsin workers who assisted Puerto Rico in restoring power are back home!

More than 40 workers from WE Energies and Wisconsin Public Service came back home Friday (March 9) after nearly 8 weeks in Puerto Rico.

Terminal C at Mitchell International turned into a party as family and friends anxiously awaited the workers with music, food, and hugs.

“It’s great seeing him”, says Sarah Peterson as she awaited her husband’s arrival. “It’s very emotional for the kids. They’re excited. It’s emotional for me.”

After hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September, much of the power had been lost. Nearly 60 Wisconsin utility employees joined more than 1,000 other workers in the response for help.

“We didn’t know what to expect when we landed,” says WPS employee Steve Vancampenhout. “They [the people of Puerto Rico] were so happy to see us. We put the power back on and they even started to clean-up the area.”

But the crew also experienced some challenges.

“The heat and the different kinds of bugs that we’re not use to, but the terrain was the big one,” says Vancampenhout.

People like Salvador Rosado joined in on the event after hearing about the crew’s restoration efforts in his home town in Puerto Rico.

“Thanks to them and thanks to God they now have power and we feel happy and grateful for that,” says Rosado.

The restoration effort has been the longest assignment WE Energies and WPS have had outside of the continental United States.

A spokesperson says a handful of managers and supervisors will be returning Saturday (March 10th) after wrapping up the leg work.

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