We all face storms in life and it always helps when there is someone there to lend us a hand in our time of need. No one likes to be without electricity and I can assure you that your electric cooperative is committed to restoring power as soon as it can safely be done.
In preparing for Hurricane Florence, South River EMC reached out to other electric cooperatives for assistance. Initially, we tried to secure crews closer to home, but in the case of Florence, much of the state and some of our neighbors were in the path of the hurricane. We ended up reaching out to Tennessee, Ohio and Illinois prior to the storm so that we could have crews on site, ready to work, as soon as it was safe to do so. A total of 25 electric cooperatives responded to our call. We also took advantage of local contractors that we utilize on a regular basis. All in all South River EMC had more than 200 additional people to assist with the power restoration efforts.
South River EMC is blessed with an outstanding team of employees and they all worked hand in hand with out-of-state crews and local contractors to get the lights back on for our members. At one point after Florence’s landfall on Friday, Sept. 14, South River EMC had more than 30,000 members without power. In spite of difficult conditions, which included heavy rains, strong winds, flooding, snakes, fire ants and more, the hard work and determination paid off. At the end of the day Saturday, outages had dropped to around 20,000. On Sunday, they dropped to roughly 12,000 and on Monday, the outages were close to 3,500. By Tuesday evening, Sept. 18, the number of those without power had dropped to less than 200.We could not have recovered as quickly as we did without the additional help provided.
We had numerous compliments from out-of-state crews. They were complimentary of the way in which the restoration was planned and managed; the shape of our system (heavier conductor, back feeding capabilities and well maintained right of ways), they spoke highly of our employees; and they were especially praiseful of the food prepared and the southern hospitality extended to them. They also made a point to tell me that our members were friendly and appreciative of their efforts.
I personally believe the Lord clearly extended to us mercy, guidance, provision and protection. We learned a lot from Hurricane Matthew and were better prepared for a major event. Nonetheless, I am thankful that Florence was not a category 3 or 4 hurricane as originally predicted.
I want to thank all of our members for your patience, understanding and the kindness. Many have suffered tremendous losses in our region as a result of Hurricane Florence. Our prayers continue with them.
We were never alone and while it is more blessed to give than to receive, I am thankful for those who were willing to come to our aid and lend us a hand. We are better and stronger together.
Chris M. Spears is executive vice president /CEO of South River Electric Membership Corporation.