and hope restored
Long before the
full extent of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe became clear, the
call for help came in to the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
With more than 600,000 members in the dark and hardly a meter turning
at systems all over Mississippi, electric cooperatives there desperately
needed our help.
By Monday afternoon,
just hours after the epic storm came ashore, electric co-op linemen
from all across the Show-Me State were heading south. Within a week
hundreds of Missouri linemen would join the relief effort. They joined
more than 9,000 linemen from across the United States who helped restore
They would face appalling
conditions. Food and drink were scarce. Motels provided a bed, but
no running water and no electricity. Some men slept in their trucks
in an effort to beat the oppressive heat. Others sacked out on office
floors before heading out for another long day.
in getting those tangled lines and broken poles repaired is the stuff
October is National
Cooperative Month and Missouri’s
response to the disaster is a great example of the benefits of
the cooperative movement. One of the basic tenets under which cooperatives
operate is cooperation among cooperatives. The disaster caused
cooperatives across the country to drop everything and assist the hurricane
One young lineman
from Farmers’ Electric told the story
at his local church. Church members there, also co-op members, passed
the hat and raised $1,000 for relief efforts.
Black River Electric
repaired an old refrigerated truck in time to send a load of ice
to the effort. The co-op later became the focal point for a massive
collection of goods requested by volunteers at Wesley College in
Mississippi and donated by caring people in the Frederick-town area.
Citizens Electric collected bottled water, Ozark Border sent line-repair
materials and M&A Power hauled
two loads of fuel that kept trucks operating when local supplies
ran out. To date, more than $8,000 has been donated by Missouri electric
co-op employees to help their counterparts rebuild.
These are just
a few of the stories we’ve heard of electric cooperative
neighbors helping neighbors. Since the rebuilding efforts and the
desperate needs of the victims will continue for many months or years,
the electric co-ops of Missouri will continue to help.
calls for assistance come, we will help in any way we can with
the rebuilding effort.
By coming to the
aid of those weary Mississippi and Louisiana co-ops, Missouri and the
other states that offered assistance ensured there will be help when
we find ourselves in the hot seat.
When disaster strikes
electric cooperatives have a plan in place that gets the power back
on as soon as possible. The plan has been tested and refined many times.
As the lights began to come back on those in the disaster area
realized more than just the power was restored. Hope was too.
We have set up a
fund to help electric co-op employees and their families, who were
also devastated by Katrina. If you would like to contribute, send checks
made out to “Katrina Relief Fund” to Katrina Fund, c/o
Nancy Dunwiddie, P.O. Box 1645, Jefferson City, MO 65102 and we will
make sure the employees receive your donation.
have been set up to help both states. For a list, go to touchstoneenergy.cooperative.com.
By continuing to help our friends to the south, even after the TV
cameras have left Mississippi and Louisiana, we can all contribute
to keeping hope alive.
Hart is executive
vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
See photos and
read more about the Hurricane Katrina relief effort at AMEC.COOP