Wired to help
PGEC crews on front line of restoration efforts in North Carolina
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.