Dominion worker describes experience after returning from Puerto Rico

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Thursday was Russell Bowman’s first day back at work for Dominion Energy after spending weeks in Puerto Rico.

Bowman was one of 82 employees who volunteered to go down and help restore power after Hurricane Maria devastated the island back in September.

“The devastation that we ran across exceeded any expectation that any of us had going down,” Bowman said.

Once there, crews immediately got to work.

“We worked 14 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Bowman.

When crews arrived half the island was without power but restoring power wasn’t the only challenge workers had to overcome. There was the mountainous terrain.

Related: Dominion Energy workers headed to help in Puerto Rico

“Those areas were very densely populated with houses all up and down the ridges. Here in the city of Richmond we don’t deal with that,” said Bowman.

They had to contend with the wildlife.

“Had to deal with a few of the local poisonous plants and insects,” said Bowman.

And they dealt with unforgiving weather.

“It would rain for 5 minutes and then the sun would come out and the humidity would build and then it would rain again for another 5 or 10 minutes,” said Bowman.

Despite being without power for months, Bowman says the locals kept their spirits high.

“They did nothing but opened their arms to us, welcomed us into their homes and cooked several meals for us,” said Bowman.

When asked why he volunteered for such a grueling task.

“This trip here was a once in a lifetime trip,” said Bowman. “The elation we saw on their face once the power was restored. That’s what really keeps us going. They needed some help and we were there to help them.”

By the time Dominion Energy workers left Puerto Rico 80 percent of the island had had their power restored.