While February’s winter storm brought mostly snow and sleet to our service area, Jackson EMC sent crews to assist sister cooperatives, Jefferson Energy, Washington EMC and Planters EMC. Each received damaging ice accumulations that cut service to a majority of their members.
Johnny Bell, Jefferson District line foreman, and Tim Sweat, director of job training/safety were deployed with crews working those areas from February 15th-20th.
Bell said the destruction was typical of a Georgia ice storm, with damage to lines and poles that resulted primarily from falling trees and branches. “You’ve got a lot of Southern Pine trees, and they can’t handle the weight of the ice,” Bell said. “They come down and take the utility lines with them.”
Sweat said that, like many rural EMCs he’d assisted in the past, these cooperatives had lines that spanned long distances, making the location or cause of an outage, as well as restoring it, more of a challenge. “We saw spans that were anywhere from 300 to 500 feet long. You could repair five or six miles of line and it might only get 8-10 customers back on.”
Both men agreed that the Jackson EMC linemen who made the trip returned with an appreciation of our cooperative’s system, each other and our fellow EMCs.
“Our guys got to see first-hand how all the work that we put into system planning, maintenance and procedures helps us avoid some widespread outage events, as well as deal with them when they do occur,” Bell said.
The men were glad to return home, but they noted that helping other cooperatives’ and their members recover from a storm is a rewarding experience. “There’s a sense of camaraderie and satisfaction when crews go on the road and help restore power. It makes you feel good to be part of something that is often taken for granted,” said Sweat.
The JEMC personnel and line crews who deployed included:
From Corporate: Terry Fulcher, line foreman; Tim Sweat, director of job training/safety; Jeff Chandler, Charles McClow and Joey Nix, journeyman linemen; and Todd Baxter, lineman apprentice II.
From Gwinnett, Charles Boyd, line foreman; Jason Casper, Jason Carey, Brian Berry, Derrick Ansley, David Carlton and Kevin Tompkins, journeyman linemen.
From Jefferson: Johnny Bell and Keith Hardy, line foremen; Chad Hemphill, Justin Cash, Steve Streetman, Darian Rakestraw, Jeremiah Nash and Michael Moon, journeyman linemen.
From Oakwood: Jeff Vogt, line foreman; Craig Etris, Jeff Sutton, Kevin Cash, journeyman linemen; Derrick Brinkley, lineman; Michael Metcalf, service representative; and Michael Johnson, journeyman lineman.
“We’re gratefully appreciative of the assistance with restoring power to our members during the catastrophic ice storm, Pax. This was an enormous restoration effort; please share our words of gratitude with your employees and crews,” said Jefferson Energy President & CEO Chris Dillard.