AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A group of Xcel Energy employees who volunteered to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria returned home today.
Two area Xcel Energy linemen were part of a 21 day deployment crew to Puerto Rico restoring power to the island.
Today, they were welcomed home by their loved ones.
"You see first responders as firemen and EMT, but I feel like linemen are first responders as well," said Krista Marshall, the wife of one of the Xcel lineman who returned home. "I know there's been times the storm hasn't even passed and Steve is out helping."
While the men were thousands of miles away restoring power to the country ravaged by Hurricane Maria, they were communicating with their families every step of the way.
"He's excited to see us and he helped me with my homework soon, and he said he liked it," said Kynslee Marshall, the daughter of an Xcel lineman.
"He said they were very appreciative of all the work that they'd done. He sent some really pretty pictures," said Krista Marshall.
"Lots of families cooked for them, lined the streets yelling and cheering them on," said Jessica Pshigoda, the wife of an Xcel lineman who returned home.
As the employees were restoring power, Puerto Rico residents were making sure they knew the linemen have a second home on the island.
"We could come back after if we ever wanted to stay with them that we could," said Justin Pshigoda, who was part of the Xcel crew.
"All of the families that cooked for us everyday it was chicken and rice," said Steve Marshall, an Xcel lineman who was also part of the wave to Puerto Rico.
"There's some wonderful stories coming out of Puerto Rico just like there are in Perryton or Lipscomb or anywhere else that we've been in the recent past where we've been where we've had lights out for a while," said Wes Reeves, spokesperson for Xcel Energy. "People are people anywhere and they're just grateful to help."
Steve, Justin and their families said the time away was hard - but worth it.
"The three weeks went by fast, but knowing that he was out doing something he loved and helping others made it a lot easier," said Krista Marshall.
"I'm very proud," said Kynslee Marshall.
"A chance to make a difference and that's what it ended up being," said Justin Pshigoda.
"The cheers when you got the lights on, people cheering," said Steve Marshall.
As these men returned home, the second wave of Xcel employees left to do their part in bringing lights back to Puerto Rico.
They'll be reunited with their families stateside in three weeks.