PRINCE GEORGE — Electric co-ops worked together to coordinate response efforts before, during, and after Hurricane Florence hit the East coast mid-September. The mutual response plan involved co-ops in several states pitching in to help with power restoration efforts after the hurricane.
After a day of travel and careful navigation through flooded backroads, the Prince George Electric Cooperative team finally arrived at Four County EMC in Elizabethtown, North Carolina. Only 50 miles from the coast, the area was hit hard by Florence with a record breaking 35.93 inches of rain. The city was in complete darkness and the roof was leaking in the offices. Brian Carr, Bobby Cain Jr., Justin Ellis, Jason Jessup, Merritt Perking Jr., and Chris Pruitt packed into a small utility room where office supplies were kept to rest for the night.
Brian Carr, line crew foreman, stated the crew was awakened the first morning with alerts from their phones of a rising Cape Fear river. “No one complained because they were there making others comfortable, after all this was the mission,” stated Carr.
While the flashing lights of bucket trucks and digger-derricks along wet roads are hard to miss, every line worker and tree trimmer working in the mud and muck to remove debris and rebuild powerlines is backed up by co-workers at service centers, pole yards and other facilities commandeered to support emergency restoration work. When electric cooperative employees and their consumer-members remember Hurricane Florence, many will likely talk about it as two events that hit back to back, with winds and heavy rain first, followed by flooding that pushed streams and rivers into subdivisions and neighborhoods.
“Cooperation among cooperatives is one of our guiding principles,” said Mike Malandro, CEO of Prince George Electric Cooperative. “It’s long hours in difficult conditions, but line workers are wired to help people, and mutual aid deployments also provide invaluable training opportunities.”