Rebuilding after the storms
As devastating tornados
swept through Missouri this spring, electric power poles were literally
sucked from their vertical holes and slammed horizontally to the ground.
Electric service to many rural homes and businesses was interrupted for
When a natural disaster
knocks out power, we can gain comfort in knowing that an Emergency
Assistance Plan is in place to bring in outside crews to restore
service as quickly as possible.
The plan is triggered
by a call to the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives office
in Jefferson City. Immediately following, electric cooperatives close
to the disaster area are contacted to see if they can provide assistance.
Calls continue to go out to systems in an ever-expanding circle.
This plan also expands
into neighboring states. In recent years, Missouri crews were sent to
Oklahoma when a widespread ice storm destroyed much of that states
electric power system. In turn, crews from Oklahoma and surrounding states
send help to restore service in Missouri when needed.
These volunteer crews
go into disaster areas under the worst possible conditions. They are asked
to work long hours in darkness and extreme weather conditions. Electric
power linemen have even been known to leave a family Christmas dinner
when the call for emergency help comes in.
This spring heavy
rains created off-road conditions that made it impossible for crews to
get to many downed power lines. A couple of days of sunshine were needed
to dry open fields before crews could reach some areas. These wet and
muddy conditions also exist after ice and snowstorms and often hamper
For safety reasons,
only a certain number of crews can be called in to help our local employees
restore service. When working with high-voltage power lines, two-way radio
contact must be maintained among all vehicles to ensure the safety of
the crew and the general public. A methodical plan must be followed to
restore electric power one section at a time. Because the emergency crews
use different frequencies, a local crew must accompany them to communicate
on two-way radios.
enjoy telling stories about the extraordinary assistance they get from
people who lose power because of storms. They tell of families who offer
places to sleep, meals, hot coffee and cookies even if they have to drive
miles to get them. When the power is back on, many people go out of their
way to thank the employees and those who came from far away to help restore
We hope we will not
have another natural disaster soon. At the same time, we know we must
be prepared to act when the next one interrupts our electric service.
We gain comfort in knowing that a proven Emergency Assistance Plan
will be activated to restore our electric service.
While we are thinking
about it, now would be a good time for us to thank the good people at
our electric cooperative for the long hours they put in after local storms
and widespread natural disasters. I know they would appreciate it.
Stork was executive
vice president of the Association of Missouri
Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.