Wired to help

PGEC crews on front line of restora­tion ef­forts in North Carolina

The Progress-Index Weekend - - COMMUNITY -

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.

Prince Ge­orge Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive crews were among those help­ing; stand­ing tall to bring re­lief to the mem­bers in North Carolina. Af­ter a day of travel and care­ful nav­i­ga­tion through flooded back roads, the team fi­nally ar­rived at Four County EMC in El­iz­a­beth­town, North Carolina, just af­ter mid­night.

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, as they had dif­fi­cult days ahead. Carr is the line crew fore­man; Cain is an equip­ment op­er­a­tor; and El­lis, Jes­sup, Perk­ing and Pruitt are jour­ney­man line­men.

Carr 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,” he said.

While the flash­ing lights of bucket trucks and dig­gerder­ricks along wet roads are hard to miss, ev­ery line worker and tree trim­mer work­ing in the mud and muck to re­move de­bris and re­build power lines 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 the storm known as 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, 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."


Brian Carr, Prince Ge­orge Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive line crew fore­man, walks through a swamp in North Carolina as he works to help with power restora­tion ef­forts af­ter Hur­ri­cane Florence.


This photo, pro­vided by the Prince Ge­orge Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive, shows a street of de­struc­tion in North Carolina af­ter Hur­ri­cane Florence. PGEC crews vol­un­teered to as­sist with power restora­tion fol­low­ing the hur­ri­cane.


This photo pro­vided by Prince Ge­orge Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive shows power trucks blocked by street flood­ing. PGEC crews joined other co-ops in sev­eral states to help with power restora­tion ef­forts af­ter Hur­ri­cane Florence.


This photo pro­vided by the Prince Ge­orge Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive shows an overview of a flooded area in North Carolina fol­low­ing Hur­ri­cane Florence. PGEC crews joined co-ops from sev­eral states to help with power restora­tion ef­forts in North Carolina.

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