Hurricane Laura Relief

Members of Cuivre River Electric Cooperative recently headed to Louisiana to assist with restoring electricity to areas affected by Hurricane Laura.

Eight Cuivre River Electric Cooperative linemen left earlier this week to join linemen from across Missouri’s electric cooperatives to assist a Louisiana electric cooperative as it works to recover from Hurricane Laura, which devastated a large swath of southwestern Louisiana late last month. Beauregard Electric Cooperative based in DeRidder, Louisiana, reached out to the electric cooperatives in Missouri with a call for help after gauging the extent of the damage.

“This cooperative has been hit very hard,” says Rob Land, who coordinates the relief effort for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.  “Immediately after the storm the cooperative was 100% down with a tremendous amount of devastation.  75% of the system remains down now.”

The impacted cooperative has taken additional steps to help the linemen stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis.  The men are expected to stay in a tent city designed to protect them from the virus. 

Special air filters capable of removing 99.4% of the virus have been installed on the HVAC equipment and beds have been spread out farther than would normally be done.

They are expected to stay for at least 10 days. If the repairs take longer, a rotation will be set up to send fresh crews into the effort.

CREC General Manager and CEO Doug Tracy met with the co-op’s linemen before they started their journey south. 

“Most of our linemen have volunteered to help other cooperatives after hurricanes in the past and this time is no exception. They know what they’re getting into but feel strongly that the people impacted need their power restored as soon as possible,” Tracy said. “Our linemen take a lot of pride in what they do and it’s in times like these that they can step up and make a real difference. Those going are committed to safely helping get power back on for this co-op and its members. I’m proud of our linemen and their commitment to help others.”

Missouri’s electric cooperatives are no stranger to hurricane help. The assistance began in 2004 when linemen from Missouri traveled to Mississippi and Alabama in the wake of Hurricane Ivan. 

They have since assisted electric co-ops in Louisiana, Florida and South Carolina in addition to Alabama and Mississippi. Electric cooperatives in the south returned the favor when Missouri was devastated by ice storms in 2007 and 2009.

“Cooperation among cooperatives is one of the principles that guide electric cooperatives,” says Caleb Jones, CEO of the association. “It’s hard to watch the destruction these storms cause without thinking that could be us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the hurricane’s path. We are happy to be able to offer help to our friends in Louisiana.”