In the largest out-of-state mutual aid deployment in Kentucky electric cooperative history, 150 linemen from 19 Kentucky co-ops joined about 4,500 linemen from 15 other states restoring power to Georgia electric cooperatives battered by Hurricane Irma in September.
“We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the electric cooperatives of Kentucky who came to assist us,” says Harry Reeves, vice-president of Training, Education and Safety at Georgia EMC, the statewide association for Georgia’s electric cooperatives.
All 41 of Georgia’s electric cooperatives sustained damage from the September storm, resulting in more than 550,000 customer members without power, a record number of outages.
“Going into an area with widespread storm damage is one of the most dangerous things you can do as a lineman, but also one of the most rewarding,” says Calvin Larkins, West Kentucky RECC construction manager.
Crews faced downed trees and flooding, and had to stay aware of snakes and other wildlife while reaching hard-to-access areas.
The Kentucky linemen were also greeted by grateful Georgia co-op members, who thanked them with handmade signs and messages on social media.
In addition to co-op employees, Kentucky co-ops also released line construction and right-of-way contract crews to respond to Hurricane Harvey.
The top priority of each local Kentucky co-op is service to its own member-owners. Before committing resources to mutual aid requests, each co-op ensures it has ample crews available for all local needs, including routine maintenance and emergencies.