When Hurricane Maria took aim at Puerto Rico, Ana Medina started thinking about what it would take to restore power on the island. Some of that thinking was due to her background as a manager for DTE Energy’s Distribution Operations team. Some of that thinking came from a concern for the island she grew up on, eventually moving to Michigan after graduating from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez.

This morning at 7 a.m., she saw some of that vision come true as a convoy of trucks rolled out of DTE Energy’s Warren Service Center to make the 750-mile trek to Norfolk, VA, where they will be loaded onto barges with a final destination of Puerto Rico.

“On a personal level, this is what my team gets to do on a daily basis, energize customers,” said Medina. “Being able to be a part of such a big mission down in Puerto Rico, to be a part of a team of multiple utilities and help on the power restoration really means a whole lot for me.”

Once the trucks arrive on the island in about two weeks, a team of 80 DTE lineworkers, logistic support personnel, engineers, and mechanics will start their 30-day rotation on the island. The company has committed to a 60-day engagement to help restore power, so a second crew will take over in mid-February.

This engagement is part of a response to the request for mutual assistance the industry received from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in early November. Since that request was made, teams have worked to provide detailed damage assessments so incoming crews could be dispatched properly when they arrive. Medina and fellow DTE employee, Manny Romero, were a part of those crews. For Brian Calka, director of Distribution Operations, supporting other utilities in their time of need is the right thing to do.

“It’s really a hallmark of what we do. When utilities do need help based on severe weather, they are reliant on other utilities to help them out,” he said.

Once on the ground in a few weeks, DTE Energy crews will be a part of a power restoration workforce that will be 5,500 strong in January.

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