Linemen from Kentucky’s Electric Cooperatives are heading south to assist with damage inflicted by Hurricane Matthew. Following requests sent ahead of the storm by co-ops in Florida and South Carolina, nine Kentucky electric co-ops are sending workers to provide manpower and assistance for an area of the country that is expected to be hit by the hurricane today.
Over 80 co-op linemen left Friday morning, travelling toward South Carolina and the area between Gainesville and Jacksonville, Florida as part of a staging effort by co-ops there. Prior to a storm, affected co-ops will often ask for out-of-state crews to travel to the area. Workers are then on call depending on the severity of the destruction and path of the storm.
“KAEC meets several times a year with other states across the south – including Florida and South Carolina – to get together the contingency plans and action plans that we are exercising now,” said Robert Thornton, a member of KAEC’s Safety and Loss Prevention Team. “Georgia has not pre-staged crews at this time, but if something happens on that coast, other Kentucky crews could potentially be dispatched as well.”
The Kentucky crews are working with co-ops further inland than some of the areas already experiencing severe storms on the coast. Clay Electric Co-op in Florida and Berkley Electric Co-op in South Carolina are likely to receive the bulk of Kentucky workers.
As of Friday morning, more than 500,000 homes and businesses have been reported without power in Florida. Governor Rick Scott of Florida has urged evacuations and President Barack Obama declared an emergency for the state. Kentucky co-ops heading to the area include employees from South Kentucky RECC, Cumberland Valley RECC, Jackson Energy, Nolin RECC, Owen Electric, Blue Grass Energy, Salt River Electric, Shelby Energy, and Pennyrile RECC.