SAN ANTONIO – More than 50 employees of CPS Energy are on their way to bring relief to people whose homes were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey.
The 53 crew members left San Antonio Wednesday morning, headed first to Schulenburg to meet up with electric workers from other companies across the state.
Once they are given specific assignments, they will depart from there to targeted areas along the Texas Coast.
"We're going into a war zone. A lot of desperate people. We're just going to go in there and try to help,” said Jacob DeLeon, a foreman with the group who has responded to every major storm since 2004, except hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
DeLeon said, based on his experience, crews will encounter some potentially dangerous conditions, which is why the company repeatedly emphasized the need to keep safety in mind.
"Poles down. Wires down. Transformers underground,” he said.
For Bertha Coronado, it will all be brand new.
Although she has worked for the utility 28 years, this will be Coronado’s first trip to the front lines of trouble.
It’s also the first time CPS Energy has ever sent a woman to do this job.
“I’m pretty sure my brothers will help me out,” Coronado said.
For her, the mission they’ve been given is somewhat personal.
"I have a four bedroom house in Rockport and it got wiped out. And I know it hurts,” she said.
Coronado and all the others volunteered for the two week-long stint.
Many of them just finished working ten days straight, making sure the electricity stayed on through the storm at home.
"I think we can all be proud of CPS Energy and what our guys and gals are doing to help out other communities,” said Cris Eugster, chief operations officer for CPS Energy. "(More than) 300,000 customers are without power across Texas, so it's really helping Texas at large."
But some of these “helpers,” including DeLeon, said they feel like they’re also getting something back.
"It's very rewarding to see how much those people appreciate us for the work we do,” DeLeon said.