Texas Crews Rush To Help After Hurricane Michael

November 5, 2018

Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10 near Mexico Beach, Florida, as a Category 4 storm—the strongest ever to hit the Florida Panhandle, according to the National Weather Service. Its drenching rains and damaging winds swept across the South, ravaging electric cooperative systems in six states. About 375,000 of the nearly 2 million electric meters knocked offline belonged to co-op members.

Texas cooperatives, among those from several other states, responded immediately, getting in touch with TEC, which participated in daily planning calls with cooperative leaders affected by the damage. At least two Texas co-ops sent workers to assist in restoration efforts; others were forced to stand down due to a lack of lodging.

“More than a dozen co-ops reached out right away, ready and hoping to help,” said Martin Bevins, TEC vice president of Communications & Member Services. “The co-ops in Florida and Georgia and nearby states were overwhelmed by support from the co-op family.”

More than 35,000 workers arrived from across the country to repair co-op systems. Among them were seven linemen from Lamar EC, who arrived in Graceville, Florida, about 750 miles from their headquarters in Paris, days after the storm to assist West Florida EC, which suffered catastrophic damage.

The storm took offline all of WFEC’s 28,000 meters and the co-op’s phones. “Our entire system (which has taken us 81 years to build) is all but destroyed,” WFEC wrote on its Facebook page, its only functioning way to reach members.

A crew of 14 lineworkers from Jackson EC also made the trip to assist WFEC, arriving less than a week after the storm but with no shortage of devastation to address.

“As soon as crews arrived yesterday morning, they hit the ground running,” said Missie Landry, executive assistant at Jackson EC, on Oct. 16. “Some said it was worse than Katrina, if that’s even imaginable.”