Update: September 10, 2021
Fresh help leaves Missouri for Hurricane Ida powerline repair
A new rotation of Missouri electric cooperative lineworkers headed south this week destined to Louisiana where they will relieve crews that have been restoring power in the wake of Hurricane Ida. On Aug. 31, 173 lineworkers left Missouri to assist Dixie Electric Membership Cooperative (DEMCO) repair its nearly 9,000-mile system. With the additional help, Show-Me State crews now represent 34 distribution and two transmission electric cooperatives.
After two weeks in the field, 162 replacements are en route to Baton Rouge, and the initial crews are expected to return home on Saturday, Sept. 11. During their time in the hurricane zone, they were able to restore power to 83 percent of the cooperative’s members. However, another 19,381 remained in the dark as of Friday, Sept. 10.
Other states assisting DEMCO include Oklahoma, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia. Including contractors, there are 1,000 lineworkers working to restore the hurricane-damaged power lines.
Electric cooperatives around the country participate in a mutual aid program that sends lineworkers from areas out of the path of a major storm into the areas that need help. Missouri co-op crews have traveled to several hurricane zones over the years, including the area served by DEMCO in 2012 after Hurricane Isaac made landfall. Their most recent hurricane help was last year when they helped Louisiana’s Beauregard Electric Cooperative after Hurricane Laura caused extensive damage.
The Missouri co-op crews report they are being treated like royalty by DEMCO and its members. They have been working in extreme heat and humidity, often in flooded areas where snakes and alligators can be a problem. However, they often return to their trucks to find drinks and snacks left by grateful members.
On Thursday, Sept. 9, DEMCO reported, “Damage to the system and service area is like nothing we've ever seen. Transmission and distribution infrastructure is severely damaged or obliterated in Ascension, Livingston, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa parishes. Extensive damage in areas makes it difficult to provide restoration estimates, but we are working to gather and share detailed information and updates as soon as we know it.”
During the major ice storms of 2009 in Missouri, Louisiana sent line workers to Missouri’s electric cooperatives to help repair the damage. This mutual assistance follows one of the seven cooperative principles, “Cooperation among Cooperatives.”