Rochester Public Utilities linemen return from helping Hurricane - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

Rochester Public Utilities linemen return from helping Hurricane Irma victims

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -

Crews from Rochester Public Utilities are back in Minnesota after spending nearly two weeks in Florida helping restore power after Hurricane Irma. 

They first worked in Kissimmee, then Lake Worth, mostly dealing with downed power lines that trucks couldn't reach. 

On Tuesday the Public Utility Board honored the men at their meeting. 

The linemen also spoke with reporters about their experience. 

"It was hot, there was definitely devastation," said Todd Keach.

They often worked 16  hour days.

They say the scene was chaotic.

"Gas stations were out of gas, thousands of people everywhere," said Chuck Floeter. "If your truck ran out of diesel you were done and you couldn't get anywhere. It was kind of like the Wild West trying to get down in there."

They say they were met with open arms. 

"People were honking and cheering and clapping," said Floeter. "They were great, they were happy when they saw us come down the road."

The most powerful moments came each time the lights returned for someone else. 

"I remember seeing a lady with her two little kids wrapped around their carport and that's where they were sleeping because it was too hot to be inside," recalled Mark Johnson. "We got her power back on and you could see the big thumbs up."

"This apartment complex had to have a couple hundred people in it and we just started hearing people yell and scream and holler and cheer and we were like ok we don't even need to go look," said Floeter. 

But they say the long days, heat, humidity, and hard work was worth it. 

"You just want to help people that are in need," said Keach. "You know we're linemen, we're out in the midst of all this rain and storms and ice and so we're kind of used to the weather and elements."

"We all have families here so we can relate to the people down there that have families too," said Johnson. "Helping getting their power back on was a big thing for us."

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