#AfterIrma: DTE crews restore power to an affordable housing complex for seniors

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Editor’s Note: David Lingholm, social media specialist for DTE Energy, and Doug Sigler, senior technical engineer in DTE’s information technology department, are embedded with DTE’s linemen and contractors in Florida. They are capturing the stories of how DTE is helping with recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma.

As utility workers from around the country fix more and more power lines damaged by Hurricane Irma, life is slowly returning to normal for many people. More gas stations have power, so lines for gas are getting shorter. More intersections have functioning traffic signals, making it easier and safer to get around. Hundreds of thousands of customers who lost power during Hurricane Irma have been restored.

Among those restored are the residents of the Gibson Plaza Senior Living Complex, an affordable housing complex in Miami. Most people who live there did not have the means to evacuate before the storm, nor could they afford a hotel room with air conditioning while they waited for the power to be restored. As Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell noted, the city was doing what it could to take care of the people living in the complex, but nothing was going to help quite like having the power back on.

“We had about 300 seniors weather the storm here, and they ended up without power, food, water. It was pretty tough,” said Russell.

Russell, who was without power himself, brought his generator from home so the seniors could charge their cellphones to stay in touch with worried family members. Then help arrived.

“We’ve been waiting for the cavalry. We’re glad DTE Energy has come down from Michigan to help take care of us,” he said.

To restore power to this complex and the surrounding blocks of homes, tree trimming crews had to cut a fallen tree off the wires so DTE crews could brace the bent concrete pole with a wooden pole. Once that pole was secure, wires could be restrung and power could be restored.

DTE crew members cutting down trees in order to restore power at the Gibson Plaza Senior Living Complex.

For overhead line supervisor Daniel D’avanzo, getting the lights back on for people is always enjoyable. When he had the chance to come to Florida to help, it had a little more meaning because he grew up in the area and cut his teeth as a lineman in the state.

“To me, these are my home people. Not that I wouldn’t do it for anybody else but it’s especially special thing to me because these are my home people.”

DTE crew members gathering at Gibson Plaza Senior Living Complex in Miami.