Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ameren Gears Up to Send Workers, Equipment to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Relief

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ameren Gears Up to Send Workers, Equipment to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Relief

Article excerpt

Nearly 100 days after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, much of the island is still without power creating conditions thought to have contributed more to the storm's death toll than officially reported.

The federal response to the storm has attracted criticism for everything from its speed, controversial tweets from President Donald Trump, and a since-rescinded $300 million contract for grid repair work awarded to a two-person Montana company from the hometown of a Cabinet official.

Now, the push to restore power is turning, in part, to Ameren, which is among nearly 20 investor-owned electrical utilities coordinating with government agencies to send equipment and personnel to the island for rebuilding efforts.

The St. Louis-based power provider announced Wednesday that it was preparing to dispatch workers and equipment including trucks and trailers to the island. Starting Thursday, the supplies will be trucked to Norfolk, Va., from two area locations and then sent by barge to Puerto Rico. After the cargo's anticipated arrival in mid-January, close to 75 Ameren line workers and other support personnel will leave to begin work in the Carolina region in the northeastern part of the island, immediately east of San Juan.

Ameren workers will be rotated to the island every three weeks, the company said. They will be part of 1,500 additional personnel from the mainland U.S., raising the number of power restoration workers in Puerto Rico past 5,500.

Helping with power restoration efforts in storm-battered areas is not new to electric companies such as Ameren, which often swap emergency assistance. But the scale of destruction in Puerto Rico is unlike anything encountered before, said Ray Wiesehan, Ameren's vice president for corporate security and crisis management.

A study conducted Dec. 11 by a group of area engineers estimated about half of the island's 3. …

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