As of Thursday afternoon, Oct. 6, 31 crews from 17 of Alabama’s rural electric cooperatives are either en route or will leave on Friday for Florida in advance of Hurricane Matthew, which is expected to hit Florida’s Atlantic coast as a category 4 storm.
The Alabama crews have been dispatched to Peace River Electric Cooperative in Wauchula, Fla., and Clay Electric Cooperative in Keystone Heights, Fla., which anticipate heavy damage from high winds and torrential rains. The construction and service crews from the co-ops will be staged in Florida ahead of time so they can respond more quickly once the storm has passed.
Crews headed to Florida are from Pioneer Electric Cooperative, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, Dixie Electric Cooperative, Black Warrior EMC, Pea River Electric Cooperative, Baldwin EMC, Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative, South Alabama Electric Cooperative, Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative, Marshall-DeKalb Electric Cooperative, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative, Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, Covington Electric Cooperative, Southern Pine Electric Cooperative, Joe Wheeler EMC, Cherokee Electric Cooperative and Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative.
This represents the largest power restoration effort Alabama has put together in several years, said Mike Temple, director of training and risk management for the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives (AREA).
Crews from Alabama’s 22 electric cooperatives have helped fellow cooperatives restore electricity in Alabama and other states in the past when power outages occurred as the result of severe weather due to tornadoes, hurricanes and winter ice and snow storms.
AREA is a federation of not-for-profit electric cooperatives that provide safe, dependable electricity to more than 1 million Alabamians in 64 counties.