There are sacrifices made at all levels when a co-op decides to send help to an area that has suffered tremendous damage from a weather event.
In addition to the line crews, and in some cases right-of-way, safety and engineering personnel, who physically respond to the call for mutual aid, the home co-op – and the crews’ families – make their own sacrifices, knowing that others need their help.
More than 210 men from 19 Alabama cooperatives responded to help five Florida cooperatives in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The crews were in Florida for a relatively short period of time – some for a few days, some more than a week – which is far less than the multiple weeks that some co-ops spent helping others recover from such destructive storms as Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan.
Still, Irma was a massive event for us, in terms of the men deployed and the depth of the damage.
Hurricane Irma was forecast to be a devastating storm, and she didn’t disappoint. Florida alone, which took the brunt of her winds and rain, at one point reported almost 800,000 cooperative members without power.
But her path defied prediction. Even as she was making landfall in Florida, Alabama’s co-ops had to be ready to respond to their own systems. The changing tracks meant that pre-positioning of crews wasn’t possible, since we couldn’t predict what the damage might be in Alabama.
Crews reported that they were well-treated in Florida, and the residents were receptive and appreciative. The staff of the Florida statewide office was also grateful for the help from our co-ops, as well as the Alabama statewide staff who traveled to Florida – Mike Temple, Eric Turner, Keith Twitty and Michael Kelley.