Stihl Dealer Days

Rural Missouri Magazine

Doing something
about the weather

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

Everybody talks 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.

At 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.

Because of their rural upbringing, co-op employees know the philosophy of helping a neighbor. That’s the rural way.

Over the 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 need help.

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 site.

Hart is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart

 

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
573-659-3423

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