Electric co-operatives around the United States are responding to power outages in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, navigating fallen trees, debris and limited access to restoration points due to continued flooding.
Co-ops have been working together around the clock to restore power to its customers and assist with damage inflicted by the storm, which made its way up the east coast of America last week.
Hurricane Matthew was a powerful, long-lived and deadly tropical cyclone with winds greater than 150mph in the Atlantic Ocean and left over two million homes and businesses without power last week. It killed at least 23 people in the US and more than 1,000 in Haiti.
It fell under Category 5 of Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale, which is the highest classification, and ran from the Caribbean to the US between 28 September and 10 October. It was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on 9 October.
The storm affected the states of Virginia, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. On the day it dissipated, electric co-ops reported 125,000 outages and were joined by 240 reinforcement crews from North Carolina.
Electric co-ops in Kentucky assigned more than 140 linemen to co-ops in South and North Carolina to assist in recovery efforts. Co-ordinated by the Safety and Loss Prevention Team of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, the operation came as a response to requests from affected electric co-ops.
“KAEC commends the sacrifice and commitment of linemen crews and staffs from our member co-operatives across the commonwealth who are demonstrating the co-op spirit to help our co-op brethren affected by Hurricane Matthew,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of the statewide association.
A crew from Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation (JPEC) travelled to Wadersboro, North Carolina, to restore power after around 8,000 customers of the local co-op, Pee Dee Electric Membership Corporation, were affected.
“JPEC is part of a network of more than 900 electric cooperatives across the nation,” said Dennis L. Cannon, JPEC’s president and CEO. “During emergencies, we help each other restore power quickly and safely.”
Storm restoration crews from Carteret-Craven Electric Co-op (CCEC) worked through the night to restore power knocked out during last weekend’s Hurricane Matthew to about 6,000 people.
“We have a state-of-the-art computer system that indicates when and where widespread outages occur and plan to restore power to the largest number of people in the shortest time possible,” said CCEC Communications Director Lisa Galizia.
“Crews will follow the lines from substations, along roadways and rights of way, into neighbourhoods and to homes and businesses to identify damages, clear debris and make repairs.” The co-op reported no more outages earlier this week.
North Carolina governor Pat McCrory said he expected more deaths and added: “This storm is still impacting people in a big way. You have got to see it to believe all the devastation that has occurred.”
Credit unions association Desjardins Group, which co-organised the International Summit of Co-operatives this year, is supporting the Canadian Red Cross’ efforts to help Hurricane Matthew victims in Haiti by making a $30,000 donation. Many residents suffer from cholera due to drinking contaminated water.
President and CEO Guy Cormier said: “We want to be there for the Haitian community during this difficult time by helping the Red Cross to provide the necessary assistance to the victims of this devastating hurricane.”
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) – which represents the nation’s 900 electric co-ops that provide services to 42 million people in 47 states – has set up a relief fund for the devastated electric co-op it helped to set up, to help it restore power for local communities.
“For member-owned, not-for-profit electric co-ops, keeping consumer members safe during storms is absolutely the highest priority,” said CEO Jim Matheson. “Co-ops located in coastal areas understand that hurricane preparation is key to providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to their members.”
In this article
- Atlantic hurricane season
- Atlantic Ocean
- Canadian Red Cross
- CCEC Communications Director
- Chris Perry
- Dennis L. Cannon
- Desjardins Group
- East coast
- Guy Cormier
- History of the Caribbean
- Hurricane Gonzalo
- Hurricane Matthew
- Hurricanes in South Carolina
- Jim Matheson
- June 2012 North American derecho
- Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives
- Lisa Galizia
- National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
- Natural Disaster
- North Carolina
- Pat McCrory
- Pee Dee Electric Membership Corporation
- President and CEO
- rescue operation
- United States
- United States