Linemen from Missouri electric cooperatives will be assisting a Louisiana electric cooperative as it works to recover from Hurricane Laura, which devastated a large swath of southwestern Louisiana on Thursday. Beauregard Electric Cooperative, based in DeRidder, Louisiana, reached out to the electric cooperatives in Missouri on Friday after gauging the extent of the damage.
Rob Land, who coordinates the relief effort for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, said: "The cooperative is currently 100 percent down with a tremendous amount of devastation. They have requested 100 linemen made up of construction crews and right-of-way crews. We have 130 linemen committed to help."
Land said his job coordinating the relief effort has become much more difficult due to the COVID-19 crisis and the need to keep linemen lending assistance socially distanced. Not long after the crisis hit, a new mutual assistance plan was put into place in case any Missouri system needed help. Land said the plan worked well during summer storms that caused major outages here in May.
The crews from Missouri are expected to stay in a tent city designed to protect them from the virus. Special air filters capable of removing 99.4 percent of the virus have been installed on the HVAC equipment, and beds have been spread out farther than would normally be done.
They are expected to stay for at least 10 days. If the repairs take longer, a rotation will be set up to send fresh crews into the effort.
Missouri's electric cooperatives are no stranger to hurricane help. The assistance began in 2004 when linemen from Missouri traveled to Mississippi and Alabama in the wake of Hurricane Ivan. They have since assisted electric co-ops in Louisiana, Florida and South Carolina. Electric cooperatives in the south returned the favor when Missouri was devastated by ice storms in 2007 and 2009.
On Saturday, Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois announced they were sending 180 personnel to Little Rock, Arkansas, for restoration of areas there hit by the remnants of Laura.
Company officials said the Ameren crews will assist crews from Entergy Arkansas. As of Saturday, about 50,000 Arkansas residents were without power across the state.
Ameren provided assistance to sister utilities in New Jersey and Connecticut restoring power to communities after Hurricane Isaias pounded the East Coast.
Ameren is a voluntary member of the electric power industry's mutual assistance network through the Edison Electric Institute. When called upon, a company will send either company employees, contractors or both, along with specialized equipment to help with the restoration efforts of a fellow company.