Our crews working in Puerto Rico sometimes get a hug, a handshake, or a word of thanks for restoring a customer’s service. But nothing prepared them for the hero’s welcome they got Thursday morning (2/8) at a local elementary school.

The school, Escuela Alfonso Lopez O’Neill, had been without power for five months – until a crew from the Harrisburg/Lancaster area, led by Foreman Chandler Evans, restored service.

Staff and students came outside, and the teachers led students in cheers of thanks to the crew. Some of the teachers had tears of happiness in their eyes. (You can see some of the reception below.)

“We’ve seen (celebrations) a few times, but nothing like that. We didn’t expect that,” said Field Manager Chris Gonzalez, who is co-leading the Puerto Rico restoration effort with Field Manager Jim O’Farrell. “It was definitely an emotional moment.”

The school is located along a circuit that our crews have been assigned to work on. The crew had parked its trucks at the school Wednesday as it worked elsewhere on the circuit, but was unable to restore the school until Thursday morning.

“When the trucks pulled up yesterday, the kids started screaming,” Gonzalez said.

Our crews in Puerto Rico have also restored power to homes, a church, businesses, and a nursing home since arriving on the island late last month. PPL is one of 18 electric utilities from around the nation sending crews in an effort being coordinated by the Edison Electric Institute industry group.

The work has been slow but steady, often in jungle-like terrain or on narrow roads. Crews are staying focused on safety while responding to damage caused last year by Hurricane Maria.

No matter how challenging the work gets, crews always take pride in bringing customers back to service. And the gratitude of residents is a reward too – especially on Thursday morning.

“That’s why we do what we do,” Gonzalez said. “For a lineman, that’s the payoff for all the time and work you put in.”