Many Americans, particularly those in the south and southeast, have formative memories of hurricanes threatening their homes and communities. These hurricanes literally reshape lives and cities, wrecking a terrible toll both in economic terms and lives lost. The, often forgotten, background of these disasters is the work performed to get people’s lives back to normal again. As television crews descend on areas of devastation, brave men and women work tirelessly in the background to restore order and power. When Hurricane Ian struck the American southeast at the end of September and early October, IBEW Local 53 members were among those brave workers rebuilding the infrastructure of the area.

Hurricane Ian was a large and destructive Category 4 Atlantic hurricane that was the deadliest hurricane to strike the state of Florida since the famous 1935 Labor Day hurricane. Ian’s damage was not just contained to Florida. Ian also impacted areas in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and western Cuba.

Over four hundred IBEW Local 53 members joined thousands of other union brothers and sisters in their efforts to restore power to the area. Images and stories from these workers, lined up in trucks as far as the eye can see, preparing to deploy at a moment’s notice to work for hours upon hours on end have gained notoriety online, thanks to IBEW members on social media. Some members worked for sixteen or more hours a day during the heaviest parts of the rebuild.

“For me, being in a union means I have safety. I have a contract that is adhered to so I’m not taken advantage of. I have wonderful benefits and a pay scale that allows me to comfortably live and support my family,” said Heather Michael, a Local 53 member who went down to work on the Hurricane Ian recovery alongside other IBEW members from Kansas City and across the country. “I always stand in solidarity. There is endless support from my brothers and sisters not only within my own local, but other locals as well.”

For Heather Michael, who has been an IBEW Local 53 member since December, this was her first taste of a storm deployment of this caliber. Her recapping of the work includes long hours and chaos, but also a sense of positivity and thankfulness from the local residents and an appreciation for the ability to help out.

“IBEW Local 53 is proud to have members who are always willing to step up in solidarity. Whether in our area, or across the country, IBEW Local 53 always answers the call,” said Local 53 Business Manager Eric Williams.

If you wish to contribute to the Hurricane Ian recovery, you can go to and donate to the AFL-CIO of Florida’s recovery efforts.