Duke workers who helped restore power in Puerto Rico reunited with families

HEBRON, Ky. -- Two dozen local Duke Energy employees returned to Cincinnati Thursday after two months spent helping restore power to hurricane-affected Puerto Rico.

"They were extremely thankful for us," worker Wayne Kremer said. "To be part of that is pretty tremendous."

Just as tremendous, he added, was reuniting with his wife and three daughters, who welcomed him home with signs and hugs. 

"These girls were just so excited," his wife, Tricia Kremer, said. "All day, they couldn't wait."

Other returning workers were similarly thronged by sorely-missed friends and loved ones after their plane touched down.

"(It was a) very humbling experience with the Puerto Ricans," worker Clint Carnahan said. "Glad we are home and glad we were able to help down there."

The local contingent of about 20 men was part of a larger cohort of 200 Duke workers who traveled to Puerto Rico from the Midwest, the Carolinas and Florida.

Although power is tentatively restored, give or take occasional blackouts, the island -- which was already straining under the weight of a compromised economy when Maria arrived -- still faces significant challenges to long term stability. Homes need repairs. Businesses remain shuttered. Restoration contractors are pulling out.

Facing all of these obstacles, thousands of islanders left in the wake of the hurricane and, according to the Washington Post, formed "a growing diaspora that, as time passes, is increasingly unlikely to return."

Anyone wishing to make a donation to Puerto Ricans still coping with the aftereffects of the hurricane can do so via the Hispanic Federation.

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