Rural Missouri - April 2013 - (Page 14)
by Jim McCarty
ust when Missouri’s electric cooperatives thought they would get
through the winter without a
major outage, two storms battered the state, plunging thousands of members into darkness.
It took an all-out cooperative effort
to repair the damage.
“February was not kind to us,” says
Rob Land, who heads the Emergency
Assistance Program at the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives
(AMEC). “This was the ﬁrst time I can
remember we got hit back to back.”
The ﬁrst round came when Winter
Storm Q hit on Feb. 21, bringing ice
that quickly collected on lines and
trees. Hardest hit were Black River
For more storm photos,
Ozark Borclick this button inside our
digital edition, online at
The electric cooperatives made it
through most of the day with only
scattered outages. But as the day
turned to evening, lines started crashing to the ground when a combination of ice and strong winds wreaked
havoc on power lines.
At Ozark Border Electric, crews
quickly repaired the big feeder lines
coming out of substations. But then
the hard work of repairing individual
outages began. “Pretty early, we called
for help,” says Manager Stanley Estes.
“Our guys were worn out. They had
worked 24 hours. You think you can
handle things, but Mother Nature can
put you on your back real quick.”
Ozark Border’s goal was to get service restored before dark on Friday,
two days after the outages began.
They almost made it. But a lone outage near Ellsinore left 58 members
without power and proved maddeningly difﬁcult to repair. The pole was
on top of a mountain, and no trucks
could get to the site. Crews had to
walk in just to assess the damage.
They brought in a tracked machine
and, working late into the night, ﬁnally restored power to all.
The scene was the same at Black
River Electric, where tall pine trees
well beyond the co-op’s rights of way
crashed into lines. Electric co-ops out
of harm’s way sent 54 extra linemen
to assist. The last of Black River’s outages were repaired on Sunday, Feb. 24.
Just two days later, Black River was
returning the favor as heavy snow
from Winter Storm Rocky blanketed
central and southwest Missouri. “We
help each other, and that’s what
makes us strong,” says Black River
Manager Tom Steska. “We would be in
bad trouble without this assistance.”
Normally, snow does not cause
major problems for electric cooperatives. But this late-season snow was
wet and heavy, and that combination
“I’ve never seen a snowstorm give
us such ﬁts,” says Central Missouri
Electric Manager Darren Eckhoff. “Our
biggest problem was thick snow that
collected on the lines overnight, 3
inches thick at least. In the daytime,
it warmed up and the snow fell off
photo by Kyle Spradley
Linemen from Howell-Oregon Electric helping repair outages at Boone Electric had to lug tools and materials into places unreachable by trucks due to the deep snow. This scene was repeated over and over in the areas affected by the winter storms. Shown
here are, from left, Rodney Rose, Aaron Nickelson, Gary Blakemore from Boone Electric and Carl Givens.
Co-ops team up to battle two late-winter storms
photo by Kyle Spradley
Left: This crew from Three Rivers Electric teamed up to repair a line
that crossed Highway 54 south of Jefferson City. They are, from left:
Ryan Doke, Cory Kleffner and Brad Wolfe. Above: Michele Spry serves
fried chicken to Boone Electric’s Travis Lynn and Steve Baumgartner.
Michele organized a volunteer effort to feed crews restoring power.
At Barton County Electric, Southwest Electric,
Sac Osage Electric, Osage
photo by Jason Jenkins
Valley Electric, West
Central Electric, Platte-Clay Electric,
the neutral line, which is closest to
Farmers’ Electric, Macon Electric, Centhe ground. When this happens,
tral Missouri Electric, Co-Mo Electric,
it slaps up into the line above and
Boone Electric, Callaway Electric,
either burns through or gets twisted
Howard Electric and Three Rivers
Electric, conditions quickly went from
Adds Howell-Oregon line foreman
good to awful on Feb. 26.
Carl Givens, on loan to Boone ElecOutage totals were a moving target
tric: “I have helped with other storms
for two days, but at least 56,400 memand been on three hurricanes and
bers were affected at one point. The
about a half-dozen ice storms. So I’ve
outages were numerous and widely
seen nasty weather. But this is unusual
scattered. Adding to the difﬁculty were
how widespread and individualized
slick roads and deep snowdrifts that
these outages are.”
meant trucks had to be pulled from
location to location, often by members who volunteered tractors.
This time, 170 linemen offered
assistance, along with line building and tree trimming contractors.
Ameren Missouri sent crews to assist
Co-Mo Electric, while the Columbia
and Fulton municipal utilities helped
Boone and Callaway electric co-ops.
They didn’t rest until the last member had their power restored.
“Those linemen came because they
wanted to help members get their
power back on,” says Barry Hart, CEO
of AMEC. “That’s called the cooperative difference.”
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2013
Rural Missouri - April 2013
Table of Contents
It’s all about redemption
Best of rural Missouri
Hearth and Home
Marmaduke’s Cape expedition
The soldier’s paper
Rural Missouri - April 2013