Days before Hurricane Matthew was expected to make landfall on the East Coast, Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative was coordinating volunteer crews to assist sister cooperatives along the coast, should the need arise. As Hurricane Matthew strengthened in the Atlantic Ocean and forecasters predicted Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina would be impacted by the strong storm, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association finalized the mutual aid plans with electric cooperatives in Tennessee, to provide restoration assistance to cooperatives along the East Coast.
“Twelve men from Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative volunteered to help those who were affected by this massive storm,” said Mike Partin, president/CEO of Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative. “Eleven line workers and our vice-president of engineering and operations left on Friday, October 7, for Berkeley Electric Cooperative in South Carolina, along with ten trucks loaded with supplies and equipment. We are proud of these volunteers who are leaving their families to help our sister cooperatives and their members who are in need.”
“There are 900 co-ops around the country who help during disasters,” Partin explained. However, SVEC is one of the first co-ops to be called when disaster strikes because their “ethic and excellent track record.” SVEC linemen have aided in many states including Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, and even inland in Kentucky when a destructive ice storm hit the area.
Berkeley Electric Cooperative is located in Moncks Corner, SC, and serves 85,000 members, of which 63,000 were without power on Saturday night. Hurricane Matthew left over 2 million East Coast residents without power and caused death and destruction in the Caribbean. Several other electric cooperatives in Tennessee also sent volunteers to assist with restoration in Florida and South Carolina.
“‘Cooperation among cooperatives’ is a principle we believe in and practice at SVEC,” said Partin. “There have been times we had to call on others to help us after storm damage caused massive outages across our system. So when we get the call to help others, we gladly accept.”
At press time, Berkeley electric had approximately 30,000 customers still without power. Partin says SVEC linemen will remain in South Carolina to help with repairs until the job is done.