Rural Missouri - April 2013 - (Page 14)

J 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 Electric, HowellOregon Electric, For more storm photos, Ozark Borclick this button inside our der Electric digital edition, online at and SEMO Electric. 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 spelled trouble. “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 14 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. Operation Cooperation 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 together.” 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.” WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP 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.” http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2013

Rural Missouri - April 2013
Table of Contents
Companion planting
News Briefs
Operation cooperation
It’s all about redemption
Best of rural Missouri
Hearth and Home
Marmaduke’s Cape expedition
Around Missouri
The soldier’s paper

Rural Missouri - April 2013