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Walton EMC Linemen Restore Power After Ian

“It looked liked a bomb went off. This is one of the worst storms we’ve ever worked.” This is how Jacob Brooks described what he and six other Walton EMC linemen saw when they arrived in Florida to repair damage following Hurricane Ian.

The category 4 hurricane reached 155 mph winds, striking and devastating Fort Myers, Florida, and surrounding areas.

Walton EMC linemen joined thousands of others from across the country to restore power to members of Lee County Electric Cooperative in Fort Myers. At the height, more than 90 percent of the co-op’s 210,000 customers were without power.

“There were more conversations about death this time,” said Blaine Ogle, who has participated in numerous storm recovery missions. “The people down there were talking about family and friends who made it and others who didn’t.”

Ian caused more than 150 deaths, which makes it the deadliest storm to strike Florida since 1935.

The change in temperature and terrain created challenging working conditions for the crew.

“Setting a pole in sand that collapses is a lot different than what we’re used to at home,” Brooks said.

The resounding gratitude from Fort Myers residents did not go unnoticed by the linemen.

“There is a sacrifice that comes with this job,” said lineman Josh Mercado. “Remembering our spouse and kids at home keeps you thinking about why you do what you do.”

As with every aspect of their job, safety was the crew’s priority while helping restore power for the Floridians.

“We’re happy to get the lights on, but I’m most proud that all of our guys came home safe,” said Derrick Hendricks, line crew supervisor.

After Hurricane Ian created havoc on the Florida coast, Walton EMC linemen spent 13 days restoring power to Fort Myers residents. Pictured below left to right: Jacob Brooks, Hollis Lucas, David Peters, Derrick Hendricks, Blaine Ogle, Josh Mercado and Ryan Mitchell.