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Local electric crews bound for Georgia, Florida

Local electric crews bound for Georgia, Florida

September 12th, 2017 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

Utility crews arrive at a staging point before heading to Florida and Georgia to help restore power to an estimated 13 million customers.

Photo by Associated Press /News Tribune.

Nearly 150 linemen from 26 Missouri electric co-ops will leave today from their respective headquarters, heading to Georgia and Florida to help those affected by Hurricane Irma.

They will be split between Reynolds and Douglasville, Georgia, and later to Sumterville, Florida.

Earlier, the Missouri crews were committed to two cooperatives in South Carolina. However, Irma's westward shift focused the pre-storm preparation to Georgia and Florida, where millions of people are without electricity.

"We help in state quite a bit, but we go wherever we're needed," Jim McCarty, Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives spokesman, said. "You never know when your co-op might be in trouble."

Missouri took part in daily conference calls among electric cooperatives expected to need help and those likely out of harm's way. Offers of assistance came from electric cooperatives as far away as New Hampshire, Vermont and South Dakota.

Most of the Missouri electric cooperatives will send a digger-derrick truck and a bucket truck to be prepared for anything they may find. A fuel tanker from Central Electric Power Cooperative in Jefferson City will accompany the group headed to Florida to avoid potential shortages.

Other Mid-Missouri electric co-ops sending crews include Boone Electric Cooperative, Columbia; Callaway Electric Cooperative, Fulton; Co-Mo Electric Cooperative, Tipton; and Gascosage Electric Cooperative, Dixon.

"We didn't have to send anyone down to Texas after Hurricane Harvey, because they are such a large state, and their co-ops were able to handle the load or if they needed help, they only had to bring in crews from neighboring states," McCarty said. "With Irma, the situation was different. We started getting calls for help as early as last Wednesday."

Missouri's electric cooperatives are no strangers to helping out in the hurricane zones.

Show-Me State linemen worked their first hurricane in 2004, when Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast. Electric co-ops in Louisiana and Mississippi have returned the favor, helping Missouri electric cooperatives restore power after the ice storms of 2007 and 2009.

"It's almost embarrassing with the nice weather here while these other parts of the country are having to deal with such bad weather," McCarty said. "We're ready to shift gears to go wherever we're needed. We're not sure how long we'll be down there, but we're prepared to be there as long as necessary."