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Rural Missouri Magazine

Neighbors helping neighbors

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

When disaster strikes one of our neighbors we all want to help. That’s been the case lately as our fellow cooperative members in the Gulf States were pounded by one hurricane after another.

Millions were plunged into darkness as the relentless storms knocked out power. Many electric cooperative systems in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia faced 100 percent outages in the wake of the storms.

You can imagine the exhaustion the line crews from those affected systems faced after restoring power, only to see their hard work undone. In September Missouri’s cooperatives got the call to come take some of the burden off these crews.

The rural electric program has often been compared to one big family. Like an extended rural family that drops everything to come to the rescue of a stricken family member, electric cooperatives can be counted on to lend a hand when the chips are down for another member of the REC family.

When the call for help came Missouri cooperatives easily assembled a group of 101 linemen. They left in a convoy of 41 trucks bringing with them a variety of equipment.

Many crews worked for a week and some stayed for two weeks. The working conditions were terrible. They labored under a hot sun, only to find rest in the most primitive conditions long after lesser men would have called it quits. I hope you will read Jeff Joiner’s article to better understand what took place.

That’s the way cooperatives do business. In fact, one of the basic tenets under which cooperatives exist is called “cooperation among cooperatives.” Supporting other cooperatives like those in the hurricanes’ paths is more than just being neighborly. It’s good business.

Every co-op knows that the next time Mother Nature sends a disastrous storm, it might be their system in its path. It pays to bank some good will and cooperation so there’s something to draw upon when you’re the one who needs help.

In the years past Missouri’s electric cooperatives have sent help to our neighbors in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Kansas. In turn, we have received help from those states as needed.

The call for help follows a carefully orchestrated plan that ensures help gets where it’s needed in the most efficient manner. It starts with a phone call from the affected system to the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives in Jefferson City.

As the calls for help come in the calls for volunteers go out to systems not affected. With that one call the cooperative with members out of power can forget about searching for help and concentrate on getting your power back on, confident that help is on its way.

Neighbors helping neighbors — that’s the concept that has always been found in rural Missouri and also built the rural electric network in the first place. As you feel the first icy breath of winter this month you can be confident your cooperative will respond with its best should nature send us her worst.

Hart is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart

 

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
573-659-3423

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