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Today is May 9, 2021


Uri and Viola visit the Deep South

By Michael Callahan

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

Communities in Mississippi are accustomed to dealing with the aftermaths of storms, tornadoes and hurricanes. When you call the Deep South home, it comes with the territory.

But last month our state grappled with something that happens much less frequently — winter storms.

On Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day — the state was hit by Winter Storm Uri and then, just a few days later, Winter Storm Viola blasted its way through before we had time to pick up the pieces from Uri.

The power outages were severe. Because the storms struck one after the other, some of the electric cooperative systems and members were impacted by both. During Viola, outages peaked at 110,000 homes and businesses with no power.

Electric cooperatives live and serve by The Cooperative Way — seven core principles. One of those principles is Cooperation Among Cooperatives. Mutual aid assistance between Mississippi’s electric cooperatives as well as from co-ops from nearby states was the key to restoring power as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible. State co-ops sent work crews to other Mississippi co-ops to assist in power restoration. Some of the crews sent to help were exhausted after working long hours on the first storm.

Additional challenges arose when co-op work crews from other states were sent to Mississippi and they had to maneuver through icy roads and find lodging when hotels were packed with local residents seeking power and heat. The out-of-state work crews were limited because the outages created by the two storms crippled areas from Texas to the east coast.

But thanks to mutual aid and cooperation among cooperatives, power was restored to our members in a safe and timely manner.

And although we think of our linemen as our rock stars — and they are — they couldn’t do their jobs without the support of the cooperative employees who work behind the scenes. Co-op workers take outage calls, set up meals and post social media to keep members informed of the latest news.

Co-op warehouse workers make sure our linemen have all the tools and materials they need to perform their tasks safely and efficiently. Co-op dispatchers ensure planning for outage repair for optimal results. Workers in co-op shops make sure the trucks and vehicles are running properly for outage response. Substation technicians go out before the bad weather arrives to preemptively make sure equipment is ready for the incoming storm event.

Each cooperative works as a team to make sure our communities experience safe power delivery.

In that spirit, we want to thank our members for your patience and our cooperative employees for your hard work and dedication.

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