Rural Missouri - April 2011 - (Page 16)

A year after the quake, co-ops teach safety to Haitian linemen Haitians to have better control of their electrical system. With uring the major snowstorms in early Check out a video from the few breakers February, a couple thousand cooplinemen’s trip to Haiti in the to disconnect erative members across Missouri online edition at power, an EdH were without power. Thanks to the crew had to efforts of the electric co-ops, most power was shut down the restored in a short time. But being in the dark system back to the substation, killing power for even a few hours becomes a major inconfor people in an area of 50 square blocks. venience for members. With few maps to figure out where the crews After a trip to the impoverished nation of were working, workers risked electrocution Haiti, however, two linemen from White River from lines they though were de-energized. Valley Electric Cooperative in Branson believe “I was shocked at how receptive they were it is something we take for granted. to us helping them,” says Marr. “We stepped “In Haiti, they figure if the power stays on into their space and told them what they are for 12 hours, that’s good,” says lead lineman doing is wrong. Accepting it shows a lot of Bill Marr. “Even before the earthquake that character in the Haitian people.” hit last year, these people dealt with constant Before NRECA started sending co-op workoutages throughout the day on a regular basis. ers to Haiti in 2005, the only way EdH workSometimes, the outages would last days.” ers learned their trade was on-the-job apprenMarr and fellow lineman Bill Gyger are ticeships, never any formal instruction. part of a group of several electric cooperative “I would love to go back a year from now employees from across the country who have and see how they are doing,” says Gyger. volunteered for the National Rural Electric “Even as bad as it is down there, these people Cooperative’s (NRECA) International Program are resilient. They take a lot of pride in their to help bring reliable power to developing country, and I think that is what is going to countries such as Haiti. Since 1962, more than help them get out of the problems they cur100 million people in more than 40 nations rently face.” have seen an enhanced quality of life thanks More than a year after the earthquake, to the program’s efforts. Haiti still faces problems with security, a 70 In the wake of the devastating 7.0 magnipercent unemployment rate, threats of disease tude earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12, and millions still homeless, but slowly a sense 2010, NRECA shifted some of its efforts to of normalcy is returning thanks to the efforts aid the wounded country. With most of the of volunteers such as these co-op employees. capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding “These guys put three weeks in for a time villages reduced to rubble, an estimated death they will never forget,” says White River Valtoll of 200,000 to 250,000 and more than 1 photos courtesy of Jackson+Appleton ley Electric CEO Chris Hamon. “It is great to million Haitians displaced, the country was in see them able to take the traits the Missouri dire need of help. White River Valley Electric Cooperative lineman Bill Gyger, center, helps cooperatives have instilled in them and take “We had read an article about the NRECA electrical workers from Electricité d’Haiti to secure a broken pole after it International Program in Rural Missouri was struck by a truck in Port-Au-Prince. Gyger spent three weeks in Haiti. that overseas to help a country in need.” Both Bill Gyger and Bill Marr emphasize (“Lending a hand,” March 2008) and the importance of the NRECA International Program inadequate equipment. They were in dire need of decided it might be a good thing and urge others to join. proper safety procedures and instruction on new to do,” says Bill Gyger. “Once I “This was probably the most life-changing tools the co-ops had donated. realized Bill Marr was interested, too, experience you can have,” says Marr. “To see how Thanks to a donation of a digger derrick we decided we should apply together little these people have, yet they are still working to and bucket truck from Coastal Electric Coand go down as a team.” better their country. They were so thankful to us for operative in Georgia, Gyger and Marr were When the two got word that Branson helping them and that is what makes our time all able to train the EdH workers on how to Haiti was looking for volunteers, they • the more worthwhile.” properly use the modern equipment. jumped at the opportunity. Although “They had never seen a digger derrick they had heard from news reports how For more information on the NRECA International before,” says Marr, who spent 20 days in devastated the area was and the civil Program, visit Haiti. “A truck that we use almost daily to drill holes unrest that was going on, the two were still excited for poles was non-existent for to offer their services. them. In the past, they just dug “It was kind of chaos when we landed at the airholes by hand, which would port in Port-au-Prince,” says Gyger. “It looked like a take days. You should have seen big open flea market. There were people everywhere the looks on their faces when selling stuff and living in tent cities.” we drilled that first hole.” Being involved with electric cooperatives for White River Valley also donearly a combined 40 years, Gyger and Marr nated safety equipment such as couldn’t help but notice the dangerous electrical live-line testers, leather gloves systems that were in use in Haiti. and safety glasses. Proper attire “Since we flew down and traveled with linemen also was donated to replace from other co-ops, we were all baffled at trying to some of the EdH workers’ figure out where the power even came from,” says clothes, typically just tennis Marr. “We noticed that most of the town didn’t shoes and T-shirts. even have a neutral line. Since they use aluminum “Thankfully, the safety preinstead of steel for their safety ground line because cautions taught by Missouri’s of the corrosive nearby salt water, a lot of it is stolen electric cooperatives are into be melted down for pots and pans or whatever grained in us,” says Gyger. “We kitchen utensils they can make.” can go through a day knowing Once settled in a hotel that was home for the that almost whatever comes our next 20 days, the linemen were informed that most way, we can handle it. But down Besides teaching proper safety techniques, the co-op linemen taught the of their time would be spent training the workers of workers at Electricité d’Haiti how to plan their day. Bill Marr, far right, goes there, safety is nonexistent.” Electricité d’Haiti (EdH). For years, workers at EdH over the day’s plans with Haitian electric workers in a “tailgate session.” The linemen taught the have dealt with countless injuries, accidents and D by Kyle Spradley 16 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2011

Rural Missouri - April 2011
Memories of that Mountain Music
Growing pains
Mail Bag
International instruction
Best of Rural Missouri
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Prairie passage pit stop
Around Missouri
Valley of Many Deer Gallery

Rural Missouri - April 2011