Raleigh-based lineman misses son’s wedding to restore power in Florida


LARGO, Fla. (WNCN) – A Raleigh-based Duke Energy worker missed his son’s wedding to help restore power in Florida after Hurricane Irma tore through the state.

Jim LeBlanc

About 400 Duke Energy workers from the Triangle are in Florida helping restore power.

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 the Raleigh-area 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.

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“It’s very rewarding. That’s why I love linework. I can’t sing and dance too well, but I can perform linework 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 there 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.

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