By Randy Carroll, CEO
The weekend of January 20 and 21 challenged electric cooperatives across Mississippi. East Mississippi Electric Power Association personnel worked most of both nights restoring power to members throughout our service territory. All through the night, these dedicated employees worked to remove trees from power lines, repair damage and restore power to our members as quickly as possible.
As I watched on radar, I realized we already had crews out working on a small outage in what looked to be the path of an approaching storm. I always worry about you, our members, and how you will be impacted by severe weather, but when employees that are my responsibility are in harm’s way, it really ratchets up my anxiety. Luckily the storm went south of their location, and they were able to complete their work and move on to the next outage.
Our members near NAS Meridian were not so lucky. A small tornado touched down and destroyed several homes. Thankfully, there was no loss of life and the community rushed to the aid of those impacted. While it will take some time, they will be able to put homes and lives back together again with the help of friends, families and community.
The news was not as good for our neighbors to the south. Hattiesburg and Petal were hit by a strong tornado that damaged schools, homes and businesses. Sadly, several lost their lives in this storm, and our deepest sympathies go to those families. Even with so much destruction, the good in mankind can be seen in those that responded with aid. During times like these, electric cooperatives help each other. Cooperatives that have no damage mobilize crews and rush to the aid of those that have been impacted.
Repairing downed power lines is a challenging and dangerous task in the daylight but that degree of difficulty and risk increases exponentially in the rain and darkness with additional storms approaching. It takes exceptional people to leave their families during stormy weather, go out into the storm, endure the rain running down their collars and bring light back to a darkened community. But they do it because of their dedication and commitment to serve our members.
As we move into warmer weather, I encourage you to take the time to plan for severe weather. Put together some supplies and know where your flashlights are stored. Know where your safe place is should severe weather approach. And when the storms come, you can count on the employees of EMEPA to respond.