10:26 AM

Perspective: The Cooperative Way

I learned early on what the word “cooperate” meant. When you’re raised with siblings, it’s one of the main things your parents teach you—to get along, to play fair and work together, to cooperate.

As an electric cooperative, Jackson EMC’s business model is based on cooperating. That means working together with fellow co-op members who together own the business, and networking with other cooperatives to determine best operating practices to achieve common goals.

Each October, we observe National Cooperative Month, a time to celebrate cooperatives and the principles to which they adhere.

Just last month, my heart was reminded of how unique and important it is to be a cooperative.

When Hurricane Irma began to set its sights on Georgia, we proactively began to seek assistance from other electric cooperatives who could be ready to restore power for our members immediately after the storm. These linemen—many from other states—left their families and homes to make the journey to our community—not knowing how long they’d be here or the difficulty of the job. Overall, 31 cooperatives across Georgia and the nation answered the call to help Jackson EMC members.

Irma, quite frankly, was challenging. It became the second most damaging storm in our cooperative’s 79-year history. Irma devastated our communities by knocking down entire large trees, snapping power poles, and entangling power lines. When it was all said and done, we replaced 186 power poles. In some areas, the destruction was so intense, it took crews days to locate the source of specific outages.

About 55 percent of our 224,500 members lost power at some point during the storm – many of whom didn’t have service for days. But, with the cooperative spirit, we rebuilt our communities.

And we didn’t just see a physical transformation in the rebuilding process from Irma, we also felt the emotional turnaround.

We understand how frustrating it is to be left without power for days. Many of our lineman were working to restore power in hard-hit areas while their own families didn’t have power at home. We get it.

What we didn’t anticipate was the vast outpouring of love and support our members showed for all of us working the storm.

Many of you offered your words of encouragement on our social media accounts. Individuals, civic groups, churches and businesses offered to provide snacks, drinks or meals to crews. Children made thank you cards, which were delivered to our local offices.

All of you, our members, are part of the cooperative spirit. You were facing the challenges of Irma, just like us, and you supported us through a tough storm.

We are humbled by your support and the support of all of the other cooperatives to restore power after Irma. Our deepest gratitude for your cooperation.