US co-ops respond as Hurricane Laura hits coast

Electric co-ops in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas are scrambling to restore power to members

Credit unions and electric co-ops are responding as Hurricane Laura struck the US state of Louisiana.

Winds of up to 150mph left six people dead and have caused severe damage, with power cuts to more than half a million homes and a chemical fire from an industrial plant.

NRECA, the apex body for electric co-ops in the USA, has reported that two of its co-ops in the path of the storm – Jennings-based Jeff Davis Electric Cooperative and  Deridder-based Beauregard Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Deridder, had all their meters knocked out.

Storm surges mean co-ops serving coastal communities may have to wait for water to recede before completing damage assessments in some areas, warns NRECA. But it says crews have already made “substantial progress”.

Texas and Arkansas were not as badly hit as they had feared but Sam Houston Electric Cooperative has reported 6,000 meters outages among its 74,000 members; San Augustine-based Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative lost power to more than 25,000 meters – about half its members. The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas has reported around 10,000 outages among its member co-ops.

NRECA reports that crews are working hard to restore power – and the practice of mutual aid among US electric co-ops mean crews from Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida have been assigned to help.

Meanwhile, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) gave advance warning to its member organisations to protect staff and secure their operations.

Chairman Rodney E. Hood said. “We stand ready to assist credit unions with maintaining or restoring operations, if necessary.”

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