Jim McCarty

Missouri electric co-ops sending hurricane help

(August 28, 2020) – Linemen from Missouri’s electric cooperatives will soon be assisting a Louisiana electric cooperative as it works to recover from Hurricane Laura, which devasted a large swath of southwestern Louisiana Thursday. Beauregard Electric Cooperative based in DeRidder, Louisiana, reached out to the electric cooperatives in Missouri with a call for help on Friday after gauging the extent of the damage.

“This cooperative has been hit very hard,” says Rob Land, who coordinates the relief effort for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. “The cooperative is currently 100% down with a tremendous amount of devastation. They have requested 100 linemen made up of construction crews and right-of-way crews. Initially we have 130 linemen committed to help.”

Land’s job coordinating the relief effort has become much more difficult due to the COVID-19 crisis and the need to keep linemen lending assistance socially distanced. Not long after the crisis hit, a new mutual assistance plan was put into place in case any Missouri system needed help. The plan worked well during summer storms that caused major outages here in May.

The men are expected to stay in a tent city designed to protect them from the virus. Special air filters capable of removing 99.4% of the virus have been installed on the HVAC equipment and beds have been spread out farther than would normally be done.

They are expected to stay for at least 10 days. If the repairs take longer, a rotation will be set up to send fresh crews into the effort.

Missouri’s electric cooperatives are no stranger to hurricane help. The assistance began in 2004 when linemen from Missouri traveled to Mississippi and Alabama in the wake of Hurricane Ivan. They have since assisted electric co-ops in Louisiana, Florida and South Carolina in addition to Alabama and Mississippi. Electric cooperatives in the south returned the favor when Missouri was devastated by ice storms in 2007 and 2009.

“Cooperation among cooperatives is one of the principles that guide electric cooperatives,” says Caleb Jones, CEO of the Association. “It’s hard to watch the destruction these storms cause without thinking that could be us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the hurricane’s path. We are happy to be able to offer help to our friends in Louisiana.”


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