When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September, DTE Energy lineman Steve Stark was worried about much more than the damage it would cause to the island’s electrical infrastructure. His daughter Stephanie Rosado and her husband Ishmael Rosado, along with their two young daughters had moved to the island in 2013 to run Ishmael’s family business.
Raised in Richmond, Mich. and a Western Michigan graduate, Stephanie Rosado moved around after college before deciding to settle down on the island where her husband grew up. She had dreamed of staying home with her girls to raise them the way her mother had raised her and her brothers. So when her in-laws offered them their family business in Puerto Rico, she knew it was her chance to make her dream a reality. The beautiful beaches and lively culture didn’t hurt either.
“Growing up, my dad’s job was to provide an amazing lifestyle for us while my mom took care of me and my brothers,” said Rosado. “That’s what I wanted for my girls. It just happens to be that I have to do it thousands of miles away [from home] and in the middle of the ocean.”
What she didn’t anticipate in her new island life, was that she would be bunkered down in her apartment building, riding out one of the most devastating hurricanes Puerto Rico had seen. She and her family camped out in the stairwell of the swaying building as they video chatted, texted and called her worried father.
“It was crazy,” Stephanie said. “You feel like you’re so prepared. You have everything ready, but when the hurricane [hits], you say ‘I was not prepared for this, I thought I was ready!’”
It’s been four months since the storm, and many Puerto Rico residents are still without power. Stephanie is proud to share with her friends that her father is on the way to help.
With over 40 years of experience, Stark is no stranger to storms and has been on a handful of mutual assistance trips, including a four-week trek to Quebec after a record ice storm in 1998. When it came time to selecting linemen to join DTE’s mission to power Puerto Rico, Stark raised his hand.
“I certainly hope to see my daughter while I’m there, but that’s not what this trip is about,” said Stark. “I am here to do a job, and that is to restore power to the people of Puerto Rico.”
Still, Stephanie couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see her father, and members of DTE’s Power Puerto Rico team could not let him miss the opportunity either. Knowing there would be a small gap in time between the crew’s arrival and when they would get to work, Stephanie and a few DTE team members took to planning a warm welcome for Stark and the crew.
Dressed in traditional Puerto Rican garb and holding homemade signs, Rosado and her daughters stood alongside her husband as they surprised her father with the “best Puerto Rican welcome” he could ask for.
The other crew members appreciated the welcome, too, as they unloaded from the bus and took in what will be their new home for the next 30 or so days.
Stark continues to be impressed by his family’s ingenuity and is proud to continue his work helping people across the United States and Canada during times of need.