Rural Missouri - June 2017 - 20
photo above by Zach Smith, below courtesy Laclede Electric and at right courtesy Howell-Oregon Electric
Top left: Linemen from Laclede Electric help their counterparts from Howell-Oregon Electric restore power. Bottom left: A crew from Laclede Electric uses a tracked machine to reset a
pole. Right: Howell-Oregon's Matthew Frazier turns on power in one of the few ﬂooded areas he could reach. Below: This truck from White River Valley Electric was lost but its crew escaped.
by Jim McCarty | email@example.com
But in the Doniphan area, Ozark Border's three river crossings were all
swept away, leaving all members west of Current River in the dark. "We had
issouri is blessed with a large number of streams. For the most a double circuit that crossed Current River there at Doniphan close to the
part that is a good thing, until the day record amounts of rainfall bridge," David says. "We had guys get up on the bluffs and look out there with
turn the normally placid streams into raging ﬂoodwaters. That was binoculars to see if they could see the tops of poles under water. We didn't know
the case in the ﬁnal week of April when electric cooperatives across if they were still there - and they weren't."
Crews working in Van Buren watched as three cabins and a house ﬂoated
southern Missouri struggled to reach ﬂooded power lines.
For these co-ops and more than 7,000 of their members, April showers under the Highway 60 bridge. The co-op's old branch ofﬁce in the river town
had a mark about 3 feet high on the wall showing the high
brought May outages. It also brought heroics on the part of
point of the 1995 ﬂood. This time, only the peak of the buildlineworkers who ventured into stormy weather, found theming's roof stayed above water.
selves stranded behind ﬂood waters and discovered new ways
Communications became another issue for Ozark Border,
to route power around damaged lines.
with radio, cell phone and landlines knocked out for days.
"It was unbelievable the amount of water that piled up - I
At Gascosage Electric, which serves the Jerome area where
mean unreal," says Bennie Perkins, manager of operations for
ﬂoodwaters closed Interstate 44, a barn ﬂoated down the swolHowell-Oregon Electric Cooperative, West Plains. "And it was
len Gasconade River, taking out power lines in its path. The
unreal how fast it came up. What really hurt us with the North
story was the same across the state, with about 7,000 memFork River is we got 10 inches of rain here, but upstream from
bers without power at the peak of the ﬂooding. While ﬂooding
us they got a lot of water. By the time it got down here, we got
was the worst culprit, strong winds and lightning also caused
another 10 inches on top of it."
outages across the state. At Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric CoopThe co-op sent crews into the fray, only to discover roads
erative, Hayti, 80 poles were broken due to the storms.
were impassable and in some cases destroyed. One crew found
Helicopters and a boat from the Missouri State Highway
themselves cut off by water and spent 14-16 hours in their
Patrol assisted some of the electric cooperatives in assessing
truck, fortunately on high ground. A crew from White River
the extent of the damage and planning routes to reach the
Valley Electric Cooperative, Branson, narrowly escaped ﬂash
photo courtesy White River Valley electric
ﬂooding when water inundated their bucket truck.
Clearly the ﬂood of 2017 will be one for the record books. Electric cooperaFrom Doniphan in the east to Seneca in the west, the story was the same:
washed out poles, ﬂooded roadways and ground so saturated with water that tives in Missouri reported more than $9.4 million in damage.
Flooded schools were so heavily damaged school was called off weeks early.
only tracked vehicles could move. At Barry Electric, Cassville, bulldozers were
In eastern Franklin County, 10,000 people, including some members of Crawused to tow trucks from pole to pole.
Employees of New-Mac Electric, Neosho, worked through the night on Satur- ford Electric, Bourbon, were stranded by the Meramec River ﬂooding.
MoDOT ofﬁcials said that 384 state routes - along with countless county
day, April 30, to restore power to 1,700 of the 2,000 who were out. Trees swept
roads - were closed at the peak of the ﬂooding. It was all caused by what may
into lines by ﬂoodwaters were one of the chief reasons for downed lines.
When linemen couldn't reach ﬂooded lines, engineers took over and found prove to be the wettest April on record, with the state receiving a quarter of its
ways to reroute power to those still able to take it. "There were a lot of things we average annual rainfall in less than a month.
Through it all, members were patient and understanding as their cooperadid to help ourselves," says David Schremp, manager of Ozark Border Electric,
Poplar Bluff, where 2,000 members were without power. "We knew we were tives worked to ﬁnd new ways to keep the power ﬂowing. "These people, they
going to lose a substation in Doniphan. We suspected we were going to lose the have been great to work with and helped everywhere they could," says David.
Hendrickson substation on the Black River. We were able to backfeed those and "It's still an ongoing process and it's going to be for awhile. We will hang in there
until we get this thing done."
that prevented a lot of outages."
RURAL MISSOURI | JUNE 2017