MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Last September, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the island of St. Croix. According to CNN, more than 60% of St. Croix was left in the dark for a little over 2 months after back to back hurricanes rocked the Virgin Islands last September. The second group of Santee Cooper linemen who volunteered to help restore the island's electricity returned home on Sunday, January 21.
The crew spent about a month on the island, frequently working long hours to regenerate power in the area while away from their family and loved ones. Energy companies from all over the country sent out aid to help with the crisis. More than half of Santee Cooper's line technicians volunteered to restore the island's power and 26 were chosen. They were chosen strategically to balance the number from each area and skill level for safety. Santee Cooper wanted to make sure they had two line tech A's per crew for safety, plus a mechanic. Two different groups of linemen were sent out for 30 days each.
We spoke with Angela Davis about the pride she holds as a Santee Cooper employee and wife of one of the lineman who went to St. Croix.
"Just to know we work with a great group of people. We are all one big family, while that first group of guys were gone we were constantly checking in on them just to see how they were doing how things were going and preparing for the next group to go for the next 30 days. I'm just proud that we are family and that we can all be close together and look out for each other and work safe."
Angela Davis and Abby Osha both have husbands that are A class linemen. They told me how they felt about their husbands leaving the country to offer a helping hand.
"Our lineman, it's just in them it's their nature. They are willing to reach out and help others and just give back. I just couldn't imagine being without power for a whole month. We've never had to go through anything like that it helps us to send them off knowing they are going to help others and get their life's back to normal," said Davis.
"We're used to them sacrificing every other holiday you know that's a given, because they have to go on-call and some crews it rotates every year. Some get Thanksgiving, some get Christmas, some get New Years, some don't. So it's on a rotation and first response too sometimes they are gone for days even just on a normal schedule. We're always on our toes ready to say: we love you good-bye, please be safe, come back home," said Abby Osha.
Abby and Chris's daughters, Allison and Ava, waited patiently with their decorated welcome signs as their father arrived. Chris Osha talked about how the days were long but throughout it all, he missed his girls the most.
"32 days couldn't come quick enough, especially when I'm missing my girls. But it was well worth it, helping out the people in St. Croix," said Chris. "The people over there are great, we may be getting only a couple customers on the day because of the terrain. Everyone goes out of their way to say hello and thank you. It's just some really great people." He also said, "don't take what you got for granted because other people got it a lot worse."
According to Susan Mungo, Santee Cooper Public Relations Specialist, when Santee Cooper sent their first group of linemen overseas just before Thanksgiving last year, only 15 percent of the island had power restored. As of last week, the power is at 95 percent.