POWER TO PUERTO RICO: Houston CenterPoint Energy workers getting remote areas back online

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ABC13's Ilona Carson follows Houston-based CenterPoint Energy workers as they try to bring the lights back on in Puerto Rico. (KTRK)

Four months after the devastation of Hurricane Maria left the island territory in the dark, Puerto Rico is slowly coming back to life.

While people try to regain some normalcy, much of the island is still in the dark. Even in the days after Maria passed through, officials identified the loss of electricity and its probable long-term fix.

Some even estimated power in remote areas may not even be back for six months.

Business is open in the territory's capital of San Juan. The lights are on. Hotels and restaurants are busy with guests. Cruise ships have returned to the port.

There are still some repairs to be done, but life feels normal

Away from San Juan, though, is a totally different story. In the more mountainous areas, debris is littered everywhere. Water and cell service are sketchy.

Even though the storm passed months ago, it looks like the storm moved through last week.

In just one of those countless neighborhoods, the Alvarez family has been patient. They're lucky enough to have a generator, and they run it a few hours on and a few hours off.

But they have no refrigerator or freezer. No way to cool off. So four months without power is really taking a toll, especially when night falls.

"(I'm) very sad," said Maria Alvarez. "I cry a lot a night. Nothing but darkness."

The man of the Alvarez household also appears overwhelmed by the stress.

The family, like everyone else in their neighborhood, were elated when an army of trucks and crewmembers from CenterPoint Energy in Houston rolled in. Fifty trucks and trailers were shipped by barge. More than 50 linemen have worked 16 grueling hours a day, dark until dark.

The task before them in this rugged terrain is monumental.

"We brought machetes, chainsaws, different equipment to get through the dense areas," said crewmember Lee Bishop.

The pace is slow. The crew might work all day just to get 20 people back online. It's pretty daunting considering a full 30 percent of the island is still in the dark.

But Bishop says his mission is simply to bring power back to as many people as possible. The folks here are truly thankful.

"I talked to a couple of people wondering how long it would be," Bishop said. "I told them two to three weeks, and they were happy."

Follow Ilona Carson on Twitter and Facebook for updates from Puerto Rico.
Related Topics:
power outageelectrichurricane mariadisaster reliefdisasterpuerto rico
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