Monday, September 11, 2017 – Urbana, IA – 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% 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.
East-Central Iowa REC’s CEO, Steve Marlow acknowledges ECI REC’s Travis Schellhorn and Ben Donnelly along with the 44 other linemen heading south, stating “We’d like to thank all our linemen for their dedication to their cooperatives, and wish them a safe return back home to their families”.
“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 (Mt. Pleasant, IA), Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative (Postville, IA), Chariton Valley Electric Cooperative (Albia, IA), Clarke Electric Cooperative (Osceola, IA),
Consumers Energy (Marshalltown, IA), East-Central Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative (Urbana, IA), Eastern Iowa Light & Power Cooperative (Wilton, IA), Farmers Electric Cooperative (Greenfield, IA), Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (Urbandale, IA), Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative ( Estherville, IA), Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative (Marion, IA), Midland Power Cooperative (Jefferson, IA), Prairie Energy Cooperative (Clarion, IA), Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative (Bloomfield, IA), and T.I.P. Rural Electric Cooperative (Brooklyn, IA).
About ECI REC:
East-Central Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit electric cooperative serving 8,700 member-accounts in 11 counties: Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Clayton, Delaware, Fayette, Iowa, Linn, and Tama.