PANAMA CITY, Fl. (WDBJ7) - Little by little, power has been restored to communities still in the dark following Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle.
Photo: Gulf Power Company. Georgia Power crews restoring power in Bay County, Fl.
Line crews working with Gulf Power have been working non-stop to repair power poles, some with few opportunities to clean up their own homes.
Many are committed to helping the panhandle shine again.
“I mean it was just catastrophic," said Gulf Power Lineman Andrew Mrzena of Southport, Fl.
Mrzena said the whole power grid in the area was demolished during the storm.
“Our whole grid has to be rebuilt from scratch," he said. "It's like building a whole new grid right now.”
The Gulf Power service technician is working alongside 8,000 crew members to turn the lights on in the Florida Panhandle. More than a week after the storm, at least 45,000 customers were still without power.
“The disaster here is horrible," Mrzena said.
Crew members like Mrzena were working 16-hour days on the road, spending few hours at home with their families.
“It’s been hard for me because like, I don’t get to see my dad very often when we get home or getting ready for bed," said Preslie Croom, 8. "He like misses the night and he has to eat dinner by hisself." [sic]
Preslie turned eight last week. Her dad has to miss it.
Friday, though, he got a reprieve from work which allowed him to help his family clear up the debris in their yard.
Preslie was happy to see him but knows he’s doing important work.
"At least now we have power!” she said.
Down the street, her neighbor Mrzena admits the sacrifice is hard, but said brightening the lives of his neighbors makes it all worth it.
“It’s rewarding to be able to help people out and get the lights on," he said. "I worked until about 9:30 last night and got some people’s houses on that had been out since day one. So that was very nice to be able to get them back on and give them some sense of normalcy.”