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Hurricane Michael Restoration Press Release — Monday Morning, October 15, 2018

October 15, 2018

Wiregrass Electric Cooperative begins its fifth full day of restoration efforts with 3,780 members without power. With thousands of members still without power following Hurricane Michael, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative has made the decision to change its annual meeting format.

The meeting will continue as planned for Friday, October 19 at the main headquarters in Hartford but the logistics of the meeting have changed.

“The warehouse where we normally hold the meeting will not be in a condition to have the meeting due to our active storm restoration efforts and safety concerns for members and the public,” says WEC Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro. “We will now hold the meeting in our community room at the Hartford office with registration and voting taking place from 10 to 11:30 a.m.”

The business portion of the meeting will begin at noon with the agenda laid out in WEC’s bylaws and a short message from Chief Executive Officer Les Moreland.

Members will enter through the community room’s entrance and not the main entrance to the WEC office.

This year’s meeting will be an abbreviated version.

Each member recently received a packet in the mail which allowed them to vote without attending the meeting.

“Members showing up needing to vote and/or register for this year’s annual meeting will be allowed to do so,” Kimbro says. “Once they have registered and voted, members may leave or they can stay and hear election results.”

Door prizes will be given away to any member who registers and votes, which includes the members who voted in the mail in process. Members do not have to be present to receive a door prize.

“We are disappointed that we can’t carry on with the annual meeting as previously planned,” says Kimbro. “We look forward to it every year but our main priority right now is restoring power to all of our members. We have every resource available right now dedicated to getting that done.”

With storm restoration efforts in full swing WEC will open it’s offices for normal business hours.

On Sunday afternoon, WEC received additional help from other cooperatives and right of way crews which brings WEC’s total workforce to 225.

WEC has made great progress in the last five days but progress could slow some as crews begin working on single phase lines. The single-phase lines and tap lines that deliver power to your transformer take the same amount of effort to repair as the three phase and two phase lines — but only restore power to a small number of homes. That’s why the “members without power” number we report over the next few days will fall at a much slower pace than it did the first two days.

The cooperative has released an Outage Prediction Map to help members estimate outage times. The map outlines the different areas of destruction the cooperative is encountering, as well as a guide for when members may expect restoration. The areas worst-hit by the hurricane are around Cottonwood, Columbia, Ashford, Rehobeth and Limestone. “Members in these areas will most likely be without power for several more days,” said Kimbro.

The map is broken up into three shades of color:

BLUE – WEC has finished completing these areas of restoration.

GREEN – WEC has most of these areas restored. Some, however, will be Monday or Tuesday before they are repaired.

RED – This is what the cooperative is referring to as “ground zero,” where the heaviest winds and damage took place. The best-case scenario is that WEC will have power restored to most members in this area by Thursday — but Friday is more likely. It’s possible some people may not have power until the weekend.

“We encourage everyone in these zones to prepare and make arrangements accordingly,” said Kimbro. “We understand this is frustrating but we want everyone to know we are working as quickly as possible given the massive amount of damage our system sustained. We hope everyone can view this map and make arrangements accordingly.”

WEC also wants to express its thanks for all the cooperatives and companies who have sent help, as well as all the well wishes, kind words and prayers from its members.