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Today is October 24, 2021

Editorial

Cooperative spirit is strong after Hurricane Ida

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

October is National Cooperative Month, so each year, we take a moment to consider the impact that electric cooperatives make in our community.

Their impact was best defined in the days following Hurricane Ida’s trek through Mississippi and Louisiana. Hurricane Ida’s Category 4 wind speeds of more than 140 miles per hour brought a path of destruction through southwest Mississippi, causing more than 85,800 members to lose electric service across our state. Hurricane Ida is tied for the fifth-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States.

Ten electric cooperatives in Mississippi initially had power outages caused by Hurricane Ida with the hardest hit being Magnolia Electric Power in McComb, Southwest Electric in Lorman, and Coast Electric in Kiln.

Cooperatives are guided by 7 Cooperative Principles; one of which is Cooperation Among Cooperatives. After personnel from each of these cooperatives restored power to their respective members, their linemen got up early the following morning and went to another electric cooperative in our state or neighboring Louisiana to repair electric service. Linemen and support staff did this for nine days in our state until electricity was restored.

I came to work for the electric cooperatives 16 years ago after Hurricane Katrina devastated the state of Mississippi. I was impressed then with the willingness and fortitude of the employees of our local electric cooperatives to serve their communities, even when their own homes had sustained damage.

Hurricane Ida proved once again that our electric cooperatives are committed to the principle of Cooperation Among Cooperatives. Although there are 26 individual electric cooperatives across our state; there is strong unity when a disaster, like Hurricane Ida, strikes.

Speaking of Cooperative Month, I would like to share a few facts with you about electric cooperatives and their impact on our state.

Collectively, our 25 distribution cooperatives serve more than 802,000 homes and businesses in Mississippi through more than 95,000 miles of distribution power line. Our cooperatives were founded more than 80 years ago to serve rural areas in Mississippi.

Today statewide, they average 8.4 meters per mile of power line, meaning we are still true to our heritage by serving rural areas. This is a low number when considering a major city in Mississippi averages about 30 meters per mile of line. Think about that for a second. When our linemen repaired a mile of power line after Hurricane Ida, they got eight homes or businesses restored compared to other utilities in more urban areas. Their job is a tough one, and they did it with a strong cooperative spirit.

Carrying through with that same spirit, I would like to say, “thank you,” to you, our members, for your support and patience in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Your kind words of encouragement and thanks mean a lot after working long days in the summer heat to restore power.

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