Area linemen and 18 Missouri Department of Natural Resources Missouri State Parks employees headed south Tuesday to help with electricity restoration in Florida where Hurricane Irma just cut a destructive swath over the state.
According to the Missouri Electric Co-ops Facebook page, rural cooperatives around the state are sending 154 linemen from 26 systems to assist in getting electricity back on for Floridians. The Missouri crews plan to leave on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Eighteen Missouri Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Missouri State Parks employees and more than 50 Missouri Department of Transportation employees from throughout the state are heading to Florida this week to help with clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The State of Florida requested assistance from other states over the weekend.
Laclede, Co-Mo, Southwest, Gascoage and Intercounty cooperatives are among those from the region who are sending workers to help. The crews from Missouri will be split between Flint Energies, Reynolds, Georgia, GreyStone Power, Douglasville, Georgia and SECO Energy, Sumterville, Florida. When the crews are released from Georgia, they are expected to head to Florida.
Earlier the Missouri crews were committed to two cooperatives in South Carolina, Berkeley and Palmetto electric cooperatives. However, Irma’s westward shift focused the pre-storm preparation to Georgia and Florida, where millions of people are without electricity.
The Missouri DNR crews will deploy from Sikeston Tuesday morning heading to Tallahassee, Florida, to receive their work orders. They are taking a variety of equipment with them, such as loaders, road tractors, backhoes, chainsaws and trucks. Their primary responsibility will be debris removal from roadways. The crews are prepared to be out of state for up to two weeks.
In addition, the Missouri State Parks teams will work in some of Florida’s state parks, cleaning up fallen trees and other debris left by the Category-4 storm. According to preliminary reports, 168 of the state’s 174 state parks have been closed due to storm damage. Two Missouri State Park Rangers will provide asset security during the deployment.
“Our Missouri State Park staff are trained to handle natural disasters cleanups and were quick to volunteer and help in any way they could,” said MoDNR Director Carol S. Comer. “I wish the crew safe travels and can’t thank them enough for generously giving their time to those in need.”
“I’m so proud of the outpouring of volunteers for this mission. However, I am not surprised,” said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna. “We have great employees who continue to step up and show true dedication to serving others.”
Missouri took part in daily conference calls among electric cooperatives that were expected to need help and those that should be 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 be sending a digger-derrick truck and a bucket truck to be prepared for anything they may find. A fuel tanker truck from Central Electric Power Cooperative, Jefferson City, will accompany the group headed to Florida to avoid potential shortages en route.
According to Laclede Electric Manager of Operations Michael Kirkland, LEC will be sending eight linemen and two digger-derrick truck and two bucket trucks.
“We are pleased to help these systems. Our crews are planning to remain for 10-15 days to assist in the restoration efforts left by Hurricane Irma,” commented Laclede Electric CEO/General Manager Marc Roecker. “It is the least we can do, as we are so appreciative to the many electric cooperatives which assisted us in emergency restoration efforts in the past.”
Amen Missouri and Ameren Illinois were among utility companies that sent crews to the affected region ahead of the Irma landfall. According to Ameren Missouri Facebook page, 125 workers left for Orlando on Sept. 8 at the request of Duke Energy. Over the weekend, these crews were returned to home operating centers, but were redeployed Monday morning to start assisting with restoration efforts.
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. In the years that followed, Missouri crews, out of harm’s way, have become a common sight wherever the hurricane zone happened to be. 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.
Relief crews are coordinated by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, the statewide service organization for the state’s electric cooperatives. Its emergency assistance program began in 1948.
Those electric co-ops sending crews include:
Barton County Electric Cooperative, Inc., Lamar; Black River Electric Cooperative, Fredericktown; Boone Electric Cooperative, Columbia; Callaway Electric Cooperative, Fulton; Citizens Electric Corp., Perryville; Co-Mo Electric Cooperative, Tipton; Consolidated Electric Cooperative - Missouri, Mexico; Crawford Electric Cooperative, Bourbon; Cuivre River Electric Cooperative, Inc., Troy; Gascosage Electric Cooperative, Dixon; Grundy Electric Cooperative, Inc., Trenton; Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative, Inc., West Plains; Intercounty Electric Cooperative Association, Licking; Laclede Electric Cooperative, Lebanon; Macon Electric Cooperative, Macon; Osage Valley Electric Cooperative, Butler; Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Kearney; Ralls County Electric Cooperative, New London; Sac Osage Electric Cooperative, El Dorado Springs; SEMO Electric Cooperative, Sikeston; Southwest Electric Cooperative, Bolivar; Tri-County Electric Cooperative MO, Lancaster; United Electric Cooperative, Inc., Maryville; Webster Electric Cooperative, Marshfield;
North Central Electric Cooperative, Milan; West Central Electric Cooperative, Higginsville.