about the weather
about the weather but nobody does anything about it. When Mark Twain
made that remark he had never met the people I work with. That’s
not to say employees of Missouri’s
electric cooperatives can change the weather. But they are making a
difference in how the weather affects you.
Few industries must
work around the forces of nature as much as the electric power industry.
Everything from ice storms to high winds to summer heat plays a part
in how reliable your electricity will be.
Because of last fall’s
devastating hurricanes, we have taken emergency preparedness to
a new level. I am part of a task force organized by the National Rural
Electric Cooperative Association that is looking at ways to meet
the basic needs of crews helping out in a crisis.
This time of year,
the employees of your cooperative keep one eye on the Weather Channel
and the other scanning the sky.
In the early days
of rural electrification the co-ops learned damage control was vital
to staying in business. So they applied the cooperative model to ensure
a speedy return to service for those affected by weather.
When an ice
storm, tornado, forest fire or other act of nature strikes an electric
cooperative’s service area the devastation rarely extends statewide.
Crews out of harm’s way could be sent into the fray to help
those beleaguered lineman in the affected area.
The men, material
and equipment were available, as was the desire to lend a hand.
All that was needed was someone to coordinate the relief efforts. That
someone is the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, the
statewide organization for electric cooperatives. Our office in Jefferson
City serves as a nerve center during severe weather.
Often as soon as
bad weather is forecasted our “Procedure for Emergency
Assistance” goes to work. As calls for help come in they
are answered with fresh crews who volunteer their services.
times like these, it is refreshing to see how willing people
are to lend a hand. It’s the same spirit that helps neighbors
when a home burns, a barn blows down or a child gets sick.
of their rural upbringing, co-op employees know the philosophy
of helping a neighbor. That’s the rural way.
years our crews have traveled beyond our borders to help
restore power. Most recently, Missouri linemen were on
the front lines when hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast and ice storms
plunged South Dakota into darkness. We go because we know
linemen from those systems will answer the call when we
This emergency assistance
isn’t the only thing we’ve
done to mitigate the effects of the weather. Missouri’s electric
co-ops spearheaded an effort to bring severe weather warnings to
rural areas by helping the National Weather Service expand its network
of Weather Radio transmitters.
Today virtually the
entire state (except for some deep hollows in the Ozarks) can get these
life-saving transmissions — but
only if residents have taken the next step and purchased a receiver.
As we head into
the summer months with their potential for damaging winds, let’s
make this the year everyone buys a Weather Radio
receiver. We can’t
change the weather. But we can be prepared for it.
For more information
about the Weather Radio network,
please visit the NOAA Web
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.