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READY TO HELP FOLLOWING HURRICANE FLORENCE
Approximately 175 workers and a large contingent of equipment from 22 electric cooperatives in Georgia will head this weekend to South Carolina and ultimately North Carolina and Virginia, if needed, to help restore power to areas impacted by Hurricane Florence. EMC leaders emphasize that no crews will be released until it is determined that no outages have occurred in Georgia as a result of the storm.
“We have a network of cooperatives across the country that will spring into action and help a fellow co-op during emergencies and times of crisis,” said Harry Reeves, vice president of Training, Education & Safety for Georgia EMC. “We have an unwritten agreement that says if we’re in trouble, they help us. In return, we help them.”
Since Monday, Georgia EMC has participated in daily conference calls with statewide electric cooperative associations in 15 states including Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin, among others.
To ensure that additional resources arrive in the affected areas as quickly as possible, crews from Georgia will initially head to South Carolina. When those needs are met, they will move north to North Carolina and, if needed, eventually to Virginia.
Since the weather forecasts have changed so much and often since this was issued, we are now carefully saying that it is not known exactly when crews will head to South Carolina. When Georgia is clear of Hurricane Florence, whenever that may be, will determine when crews leave. EMCs sending crews at this time include Canoochee EMC (Reidsville), Carroll EMC (Carrollton), Central Georgia EMC (Jackson), Cobb EMC (Marietta), Diverse Power (LaGrange), Flint Energies (Reynolds), Grady EMC (Cairo), GreyStone Power (Douglasville), Hart EMC (Hartwell), Irwin EMC (Ocilla), Jackson EMC (Jefferson), Jefferson Energy (Wrens), Little Ocmulgee EMC (Alamo), Mitchell EMC (Camilla), Oconee EMC (Dudley), Satilla REMC (Alma), Sawnee EMC (Cumming), Snapping Shoals (Covington), Southern Rivers (Barnesville), Tri-County EMC (Gray), Walton EMC (Monroe) and Washington EMC (Sandersville).
The number of EMCs and personnel offering assistance could increase in the days ahead depending on conditions and the extent of damage to the electric distribution system.
Winds, heavy rain, flooding and storm surge are the biggest threats during hurricanes and can blow electric poles and structures to the ground and knock trees on power lines, shutting down power to thousands of consumers.
While Reeves can’t say specifically in what order power will be restored in the affected areas, he notes that many utilities follow a standard industry practice to repair and energize lines. First, feeder and primary lines are repaired, then secondary and service lines next. This method restores power to the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time.
The EMCs in Georgia have vast experience restoring power following major storms. In recent years, Georgia has been especially hard hit with hurricanes, tornadoes and ice/snow events. Consequently, EMC crews in the state have worked alongside co-ops in South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, plus some from as far away as Michigan and Wisconsin following the historic damage caused by Hurricane Irma at this time last year.
Georgia EMC is a statewide trade association representing the state’s 41 electric cooperatives, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. Collectively, Georgia’s customer-owned co-ops provide electricity and related services to 4.4 million people, nearly half of Georgia’s population, across 73 percent of the state’s land area.