CIDRA, Puerto Rico (Dec. 25, 2017) – Residents and businesses of Cidra are poised to get their electricity back online, thanks to the continued mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Task Force Power Restoration team through the holidays.
The TF Power Restoration workforce began their work to restore the town’s power grid earlier this month. Cidra is a small agricultural community, located in the central region of the island, with a population of about 43,000. People here have gone without power for more than 100 days.
Corps Quality Assurance Specialist Amy Tillery has overseen the workforce’s power grid restoration in Cidra since early December. She is responsible for construction site safety and contract management.
Tillery, a 21-year U.S. Army veteran, and a park ranger in the St. Louis District, deployed to Puerto Rico three months ago. She has also worked the Corps’ Blue Roof mission in Punta Santiago and Aibonito.
“This has been the most rewarding experience of my life,” said Tillery. “Puerto Rico and its citizens have suffered unimaginable devastation and hardship and I’m so grateful to play a role in restoring the lives of my fellow Americans.”
Tillery said that her contract crew, Mas-Tec, based in North Carolina, has brought online one major transmission line to a local hospital, replaced 52 downed utility poles, and erected more than 20,000 feet of transmission wire.
She said that everywhere Mas-Tec has worked throughout Cidra, the local residents have come out to greet them and to offer their support; such as providing water, beverage and snacks. Some residents opened their homes to the crew and served hot meals as the linemen continued their work Christmas day.
“One of the line trucks broke down a few days ago. A nearby service station owner let us park the vehicle at his station and even safely stored the vehicle’s equipment in his office overnight,” said Tillery.
Patrick Foreman, a lineman operating an auger pole truck, said he was overwhelmed with the people’s kindness. “My whole crew just wants to finish our work here as safely and quickly as possible, so these fine people can return to a normal life.”
USACE is partnering with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the Department of Energy, FEMA, and associated contracted partners, to restore safe and reliable power to the people of Puerto Rico. As assigned by FEMA, the Corps leads the federal effort to repair the hurricane-damaged electrical power grid in support of the Government of Puerto Rico. PREPA’s report on the status PR website (http://status.pr/) shows the current load as of Dec. 24 is 69.8 percent of the average pre-storm load.
Cidra, founded in 1809, is known as "El Pueblo de la Eterna Primavera" (the town of the eternal spring). The townspeople here have endured devastating hardship but, like resident Isabella Bocanegro says, “We are Americans … we thank you for volunteering to help us and we pray for your safety every day. And we know there will be a brighter day ahead.”