Iowa’s electric cooperatives send linemen and equipment to Georgia to restore power in the wake of Hurricane Irma
DES MOINES – In the electric industry, Mother Nature’s worst brings out our best, and the same can be said in Hurricane Irma’s wake. Earlier this morning, 46 linemen and 26 vehicles from fifteen of Iowa’s not-for-profit electric cooperatives headed out to Okefenoke Rural Electric Membership Corporation in southeast Georgia to help restore extensive power outages caused by Hurricane Irma. As of Monday morning, Okefenoke REMC reported that 95 percent of its electric system was offline. The Iowa linemen will provide needed manpower and assistance to make repairs and restore electricity as safely and as quickly as possible along the Florida-Georgia line. Based on initial damage reports, the Iowa linemen could be in Georgia for two weeks or longer if needed.
The Iowa electric co-op linemen rendezvoused at Access Energy Cooperative in southeast Iowa for a situation briefing and a safety review before the convoy rolled out on Monday morning. The safety review covered regional working conditions the linemen might encounter, including hazards like crocodiles and scorpions.
John Dvorak, director of safety and loss control for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, coordinates mutual aid assistance between electric cooperatives within Iowa and across the country as needed, often following severe weather events. “These linemen are happy to go out and help those in need, but we also need to make sure we bring them back safely to their families when power is restored. Working with electricity is very dangerous, and there is an extra element of danger when you’re restoring power following a severe storm like Hurricane Irma,” remarked Dvorak.
“Cooperation among cooperatives” is one of the seven core principles that guide all electric cooperatives across the country, and it includes providing mutual aid to other electric cooperatives in need. The following Iowa electric cooperatives sent crews and equipment to assist their fellow cooperative in Georgia: Access Energy of Mt. Pleasant, Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative of Postville, Chariton Valley Electric Cooperative of Albia, Clarke Electric Cooperative of Osceola, Consumers Energy of Marshalltown, East-Central Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative of Urbana, Eastern Iowa Light & Power Cooperative of Wilton, Farmers Electric Cooperative of Greenfield, Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives of Urbandale, Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative of Estherville, Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative of Marion, Midland Power Cooperative of Jefferson, Prairie Energy Cooperative of Clarion, Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative of Bloomfield and T.I.P. Rural Electric Cooperative of Brooklyn.
Track power restoration efforts at Okefenoke REMC online at www.oremc.com.
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