Out-of-state lineman misses son’s wedding to restore power in Florida

LARGO, FL (WFLA) – With the number of power outages in Florida after the hurricane, Duke Energy has called on thousands of extra workers from across the country to help.

There are about 150,000 Duke Energy customers in Pinellas County still without power and crews are working around the clock to get that number to zero.

A crew from North Carolina said they’re sacrificing time with their families and, for some, missing out on major life events to help.

As they enter day four of work, Duke Energy crews from around the country fight through the fatigue and exhaustion to restore power.

“We’ve been brought down to Florida and we’ll stay down here until we get the job done,” said Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks.

Raleigh-native Jim LeBlanc has helped out six times after hurricanes – including Sandy, Katrina and now Irma.

“It’s very rewarding. That’s why I love line work. I can’t sing and dance too well, but I can perform line work safely and not a lot of people can do this job safely,” said LeBlanc.

He even missed his son’s wedding on Wednesday in order to be here to help.

“I told him before I left, I said, ‘Son, this is what we do. This is why God put us on this Earth. To restore power,’” LeBlanc said.

For the homeowners in the Largo neighborhood where the Raleigh crews are working, they’re finding ways to express how thankful they are to have crews come from out of state to help.

“We’re very grateful. These guys came out like a task-force team and handled their business,” said resident Kevin Minnerly.

As for LeBlanc, he says he’ll be treating his son to a celebratory dinner at a Raleigh steak restaurant when he gets home.

“He loves that place pretty good so I’ll try to do something nice for him,” LeBlanc said.

The Raleigh crew will be in Florida until all of the power in Pinellas County is restored.

Duke Energy says they plan on having it done by Friday at midnight.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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