ORLANDO, Fla. — They may not come to mind when you think first responders, but power crews play a critical role in returning communities back to normal after a natural disaster.

Friday, Orlando Utilities Commission crews headed north to help fix the issues Florence creates. 

“We never know what to expect. Everything could be on the ground, and we are rebuilding the whole place, or it could be just a few things,” OUC Lead Line Technician Richard Boley explained about responding to disasters.

A crew of 18 OUC workers loaded their trucks at the operations center and headed toward South Carolina Friday.

They’ll be ready to respond to areas that need an extra hand restoring power. 

“They’re going to be away from family for days, probably weeks, quite honestly. They’re going to work 14 to 16 hour days,” Clint Bullock, CEO of OUC, said. “They understand how important it is to have electricity, and for them I can tell you it is extremely rewarding when they finish up a job and someone comes out of the house and they say, ‘you know what, thank you for helping us.’”

Crews say this is a chance for OUC to return the favor when Central Florida needed similar help from other communities and states after Hurricane Irma knocked out power to so many in the area. 

“The utilities, we work together, and that’s really what is great about our industry. When you have this type of devastation or this type of catastrophe, we all come and work together,” Bullock said.