On the first Monday of June, the state of Alabama recognizes the dedication of lineworkers with Lineman Appreciation Day. Recent storms in Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) territory highlighted just how selfless these men and women can be.
A strong weather system blew through southeastern Alabama on April 24, triggering more than 4,000 outages in WEC’s territory. This was the largest singular outage the cooperative had experienced since Hurricane Michael struck in October 2018. The outage was nearly three times as large as the one generated when Hurricane Sally pummeled the area in September.
Forecasts leading up to that Saturday indicated the possibility of severe weather, but meteorologists increased the risk level to “enhanced” less than 24 hours before the first thunderstorm reached the area.
“We had a strong storm — similar to a hurricane in terms of widespread impact — without the watches and warnings that precede hurricanes for days,” says WEC Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro.
Despite the challenges of addressing outages in each county of WEC’s territory, linemen valiantly and safely braved numerous storms to restore power quickly. All power was restored by 3 am the following morning with the help of contractor crews and crews from other power providers in the state. During the response, crews had to replace 11 broken utility poles.
“Providing a consistent, high-quality service to our members in a safe manner is our top priority,” Kimbro says. “We utilized all of the resources available to us to ensure the length of outages were as minimal as possible. It really was a heroic, all-out effort by the linemen to work as quickly and as safely as they did.”
Those Who Provided WEC Assistance Following April 24’s Storms
- Asplundh — two right-of-way crews
- Volt — three service crews
- Southern Line — one right-of-way crew
- Pea River Electric Cooperative — one right-of-way crew
- Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative — one service crew
- City of Troy — two service crews
- City of Hartford — one crew