Two weeks after Westerville Division of Fire Lt. Marcus Chapman joined rescue efforts in Houston, Texas, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a team of Westerville linemen from the Westerville Electric Division traveled south to face another of this summer's major natural disasters.

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, a devastating storm that hit the Caribbean and Florida in early September, thousands were left without power.

In response, communities far and wide sent teams of electrical workers to help restore power for Florida residents. Many of the crews responded through a massive partnership with American Municipal Power, which has a "mutual-aid agreement" with many locations across the country.

Curtis Blase, Todd Head, Chuck Penny and Chris Revennaugh left Westerville and traveled to Clewiston, Florida, where the devastation was described as "overwhelming."

Head said he had experienced the cleanup efforts after Hurricane Floyd, a 1999 storm that hit the East Coast, but said Floyd's effects paled in comparison to those of Irma.

"You kind of mentally prepare for it, knowing you're going to see lots of devastation," he said. "But when you actually get here and see it, it can be a little overwhelming. But you've just got to do what you've got to do. They need electric to get everything going."

The four men have been working long days, from about 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., since their arrival Sept. 11.

And while the Florida residents are largely used to the weather -- without air conditioning -- Head said the humid setting and long hours makes for an exhausted group at the end of each day.

"The biggest thing we have to deal with isn't the power lines, it's the heat," Head said. "I think it's going to be 96 degrees today with humidity and the real-feel temperature. ... (Residents) tell you it's not even hot yet. But coming from Ohio, it's hot."

But the linemen know their work is appreciated, and Head said most of the group's good stories come from interacting with the locals.

"The residents down here are awesome," he said. "They're giving us Gatorade and cold waters. We missed lunch the other day ... and a girl came by with a whole bag of Burger King cheeseburgers. So they're very appreciative."

After hours of hard work, Head said the reward comes when power is restored for a whole row of houses.

"All you hear is cheers all down the street," he said. "It's a great feeling."

Despite the heat and an incident when a lizard crawled into his helmet -- which Head said "really freaked (me) out", the group is dealing well with the conditions, and will remember the good experiences they've had with the residents.

The group isn't sure when it will be back home, because Florida's power grid requires a lot of attention.

But when they do return, they'll come back with a sense of pride.

"It's pretty crazy to see all this," he said. "But it's a good feeling knowing you're helping."

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