Perspective: Ready to Respond
We’re about 250 miles from the closest beach. Even though that’s a few hours drive away, we can still feel the effects of powerful storms churning off the coast. Our electrical system can be damaged by wind and rain from tropical storms. So we keep a close eye when forecasts give hints that a potentially destructive storm is brewing.
If severe weather heads our way, rest assured that we’re ready to respond. What does our storm plan look like? Simply put, it involves people, supplies and communication.
Our plan starts with our people. Throughout the year, our line crews receive extensive training for safely restoring power. Our office personnel are cross-trained to help with logistics support during major storms. They could be delivering meals to crews in the field restoring power or responding to members’ calls. When we anticipate a major storm could be headed our way, we begin to mobilize crews from contractors and other electric co-ops. That way, we’ve got extra help standing by ready to work alongside our crews for clearing trees, replacing broken poles and fixing damaged lines or equipment.
Next, our plan anticipates that we must have the right materials, tools and equipment to get the lights back on.
Having materials and equipment in the right place to effectively restore power is critical. We stockpile poles, wires, transformers and other materials across our service area before a storm hits. Our vehicles are fueled and ready for the demands of storm restoration work.
And finally, we know that it takes great communication to safely and effectively restore power after a storm. The MyJacksonEMC website and mobile app have been valuable for members to report their outage and view others in our service area. Our contact center is fully staffed to take phone calls and our social media team shares updates. We also update the media on our storm response efforts so they can be broadcast on radio and TV.
Our storm plan was recently activated in preparation of Hurricane Ian. Fortunately, our area wasn’t impacted by Ian, but the damage Ian caused along the path of the storm is astonishing. Soon after Ian passed through Florida, our crews were ready to help. We sent 32 line workers and support personnel to North Fort Myers, where they helped a fellow co-op in their restoration efforts. Seeing them packing their trucks on an early morning – knowing they’d spend many days away from their families – was humbling, but we’re honored to help those in need after such a devastating storm.
It’s a proud part of our culture. We call it “the spirit of cooperation,” and it was lived out by the hard work and commitment our crews demonstrated in south Florida. I’d like to give special recognition to that storm team and their families for their sacrifice and dedication and also to those that kept the lights on here while we assisted others.
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