Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 8
Above: Linemen from Laclede Electric Cooperative got an early start to repair this outage in Warner Robins, Georgia. Working in a suburban area was new to these linemen from the Ozarks.
Georgia & Florida on our Minds
'Co-op Cavalry' helps out after Hurricane Irma plunges millions into darkness
by Jim McCarty | email@example.com
he sky is still dark as eight Laclede Electric Cooperative linemen stand
next to their trucks hundreds of miles from home listening to a voice
with a deep southern drawl lay out their day's work. Matt Denton, a
lineman from Georgia's Flint Energies, speaks loud above the rumble
of their idling diesel truck. "We'll get it fi gured out and we'll be good together,"
he says. "We all co-op. We all glad you are here and we appreciate y'all being
here. We've been waitin' since Monday to see you show up."
At Flint Energies' operations center in Warner Robins, Georgia, a sense of
urgency punctuates the scene. Trucks from the home co-op stand fender to
fender with trucks marked with the logos of electric cooperatives from Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina.
Each crew is assigned a birddog, a local employee like Matt who knows
the system and what needs to
be done. In the wake of Hurricane Irma, which ravaged Florida and southern Georgia with
powerful winds, it is all hands
on deck to repair the damage.
Normally help would come
from other systems in the home
state. But this storm is so widespread - some co-ops have 90
percent of their members without power - that help had to
come from other states.
That's why linemen from Laclede Electric, joined by more than 5,000 of their
counterparts from Missouri and 25 other states, are so far from home preparing for another day on the lines. A week before Irma would pound Florida and
southern Georgia, more than 130 linemen from Missouri had volunteered to
help repair damage to power lines.
"This is one of the worst storms our co-op has ever experienced," says Matt.
"We had 35,000 members off at the peak. When these guys showed up it was
a pleasant sight to see. These folks behind me from Missouri drove 20 hours
straight and got here at midnight or after. And they were up for breakfast by 6
a.m. They got the job briefi ng and went to work."
Farther south, even more Missouri lineworkers convoy to central Florida
where SECO Energy is desperate for help. They work in conditions alien to Missouri linemen, braving alligators, snakes, spiders and scorpions.
"The fi rst thing they did that night when we rolled in there was to go through
the safety briefi ng," says Black River Electric lineman Seth Revelle, one of the
workers who helped in Florida. "They told us all about the snakes ... coral
snakes and a couple different kinds of rattlesnakes, cottonmouths. They gave
us a pretty good notebook on what to look for. Seeing all the pictures of snakes
and scorpions, I thought, 'What did we get into?' But it was all good."
Add to that list giant mosquitoes that form a blood splat the size of a half dollar when swatted and the notorious fi re ants that keep the workers constantly
on the lookout.
The Missouri linemen are part of the largest mobilization of assistance for
electric cooperatives in the program's history, according to the National Rural
Electric Cooperative Association. Electric co-ops in Florida and Georgia saw
Left: Missouri linemen faced spiders, snakes and alligators while repairing lines in Florida.These banana spiders were common but harmless.
photo courtesy Seth Revelle, Black River Electric
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - November 2017
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 3
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 4
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 5
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 6
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 7
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 8
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 9
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 10
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 11
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 12
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 13
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 14
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 15
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 16
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 17
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 18
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 19
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 20
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 21
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 22
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 23
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 24
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 25
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 26
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 27
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 28
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 29
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 30
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 31
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 32
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 33
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 34
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 35
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 36
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 37
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - 38
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - November 2017 - Cover4