Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 5

RM

| PERSPECTIVES

H A RT TO H E A RT

Hurricane help from Missouri
by Barry Hart | bhart@amec.coop

I

magine sitting at home watching TV and seeing
a massive storm with winds over 150 mph filling
the screen. Now imagine that storm is bearing
down on you. That was the situation millions
of Americans faced as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma
pounded coastal areas from Florida to Texas, then
moved inland to do more devastation.
Years ago, Missouri's electric co-ops didn't pay as
much attention to hurricanes. Our focus was on ice
storms that cause us problems in winter months.
Hurricane Hugo, which struck the eastern seaboard in 1990, changed all that. So powerful was
that storm that it caused electric cooperatives in the
Carolinas to cast their call for help much wider than
they normally would have.
Missouri's electric cooperatives responded by
gathering up all available splices, an item that was
in short supply, and quickly sending them to those
repairing outages in South Carolina.
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan slammed into the Gulf
Coast, leaving a path of destruction behind. Every
co-op in Alabama was affected. Every spare lineworker was rushed to the state to lend a hand.
But co-ops in Mississippi also had extensive damage, and they called Missouri for help. We responded with 101 lineworkers and 48 trucks, with some
driving more than 750 miles to reach their destination. When they had wrapped up repairs in Mississippi, they moved on to Alabama and lent a hand
there as well.
That was the first hurricane Missouri linemen
worked, but it would not be the last. In the years
that followed, Missouri crews, out of harm's way,
were a common sight wherever the hurricane zone
happened to be. Electric co-ops in Louisiana and
Mississippi later returned the favor, helping us
restore power after the ice storms of 2007 and 2009.

That's the cooperative way. All it takes is one call
from those needing help to the statewide association to start the process of sending workers, equipment and materials rolling down the highways. Long
before Harvey and Irma made landfall, our mutual
assistance program at the Association of Missouri
Electric Cooperatives was put into operation.
Our team sat in on nationwide conference calls
that included electric cooperatives from as far away
as South Dakota and New Hampshire, all offering
assistance. Well before Irma made landfall, Missouri's electric cooperatives had committed to helping South Carolina's Berkeley and Palmetto electric
cooperatives. But those systems were fully prepared
to release them to Florida or Georgia if the storm
went that way instead.
We reached out to every system in Missouri to get a sense
of how many linemen were
available and what they could
bring with them. They were
happy to help, remembering
when they were the ones in the
hot seat, glad to see those outof-state trucks pull up in their
parking lots. A total of 133
linemen from Missouri electric
cooperatives ended up helping
to restore power in Florida and
Georgia.
Watching the response to
these major storms, it felt like
family coming together to help a
loved one in their hour of need.
My heart goes out to everyone
affected by these two intense
natural disasters.
If you would like to help the
millions of people in the paths

of these storms, the need is certainly great. Here's a
list of some worthy organizations you can support:
The American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) is
an organization on the front line of every storm.
The Salvation Army (give.salvationarmyusa.org)
has pledged to help with long-term suffering.
Electric cooperatives in Texas set up a fund to
help locally. Mail checks to TEC Hurricane Harvey
Disaster Relief Fund, Texas Electric Cooperatives,
1122 Colorado St., 24th Floor, Austin, TX 78701.
The Cooperative Development Fund at www.cdf.
coop/nreca helps cooperative employees in need.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

GUEST COLUMN

Life and lemons
by Vicki Kemna | info@ruralmissouri.coop

F

eb. 3, 2017, turned out to be a really good
day. It was the day I found out
I had cancer. Yes, you read that
right. It was a really good day.
Doctors found a 2-centimeter tumor
in my right breast. A stage-two cancer
diagnosis. My annual mammogram in
May 2016 was perfectly clear and just
a few months later I had a lump that
I could definitely feel. Don't get me
wrong. I was devastated, but only for
about 30 minutes.
It didn't take me long to realize I
wouldn't be fighting alone, not by a
long shot. I had an army of warriors
ready to stand by my side and battle
with me. Support came from my famVicki
ily and friends, but especially from my
co-op family who kept my spirits lifted and kept me
going day after day. I have never felt more loved and
supported in all of my 46 years. I'm kind of aggravated at myself that it took getting stupid cancer for
me to realize and appreciate the treasures I had in
my life. I've always known that I have pretty great
friends and co-workers, but they hit a level of great-

ness beyond measure these past few months.
I have what is called "triple negative cancer" in
oncology lingo. A triple negative diagnosis makes
the oncology nurses gasp for breath a
little. It's fast growing and cannot be
treated with hormone therapy pills.
So every week from February to midJuly, I visited my new friends in the
oncology infusion wing of the hospital for chemotherapy. These nurses
and doctors work in a pretty crummy
and downright depressing area of the
hospital. But every week we managed
to laugh a lot while I got the dreadful
drip. And I could hear other patients
talking to each other and helping each
other forget their situation for just a
little while at least.
I have met some really terrific peoKemna
ple since I was diagnosed. I'm pretty
grateful for this, too.
I like to think of my cancer as more of a triplepositive than a triple negative. One: I have not had
to shave my legs since February. Two: I can shower
and be out the door in 15 minutes since I'm bald
and don't have hair to fix. And three: If I mention
the "unmentionable" it will make all men reading

this cringe a little, so I'll just say there is a certain
time every month that I am SO very grateful.
As you can tell, I'm not bashful. My motto from
the very beginning has been the more people who
know I am fighting cancer, the more people I'll have
praying for me. I didn't wear a wig to hide my bald
head. I tried a wig once, but my 13-year-old daughter told me I looked better bald. She's not bashful
either. I was quite surprised though by the number
of relatives and friends who shared with me their
cancer story only after they found out I had cancer, too. That made me a little sad. Had I known, I
would have been the friend who dropped everything
to make the family dinner. Or at least I hope I would
have been.
Since I started my cancer journey I have written a somewhat weekly blog to my warrior group
to keep them updated on how my treatments were
going. I titled it "Life and Lemons." The phrase came
from a friend who was encouraging me to make lemonade from the lemons I was dealt. My hope for all
who have cancer or who are recovering from cancer
is to enjoy a super-sized glass of lemonade ... or
better yet add some vodka and make a cocktail!
Kemna is the assistant manager of Boone Electric
Cooperative, Columbia.
OCTOBER 2017 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

5


http://www.redcross.org http://give.salvationarmyusa.org http://www.cdf.coop/nreca http://www.cdf.coop/nreca http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2017

Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 4
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 5
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 6
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 7
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 8
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Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover4
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