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CHELCO Highlights

 

It’s just neighbors helping neighbors

In the spirit of cooperation among cooperatives, nine CHELCO and three Southland Utility Services employees spent 10 days at Glades Electric Cooperative (GEC) in Moore Haven, Fla., assisting with restoration efforts after Hurricane Irma. GEC had more than 16,000 members without power when the crew packed up and headed down south. Several cooperatives banded together to help GEC restore members’ power quickly.

In the cooperative world, “cooperation among cooperatives” is one of our core principles. Operations Supervisor Larry Tankersley described it best. Larry said, “We look forward to being able to go help other people. It’s just neighbors helping neighbors.”

For Larry, and most of the linemen who deployed to GEC, helping others restore power was nothing new; however, two apprentice linemen, AJ Coker and Cole Hatcher, experienced it for the first time. AJ was excited about going and enjoyed the trip, especially getting to know the other guys better. AJ also appreciated the GEC members and community.

“The ladies at the church took good care of us,” he said.  “I was also able to have direct contact with some of their members, and they were very humbling. They were all excited to see us.”
 
This was not the first trip for Senior Line Technician Caleb Garrett, and he also enjoyed helping others and acknowledged the importance of cooperatives banding together.

“It would have taken them a long time without outside help and some of the guys working didn’t have power themselves, said Caleb. He also talked about the rewards of the trip. “There was this older lady who was home by herself because her husband is a tree cutter and was away helping others in response to the storm clean up,” he said. “Knowing that we are working toward something and making a difference is rewarding.”

Caleb said the most memorable part of the trip, however, was wading waist deep in water to climb a pole so they could restore power. Though that condition was not ideal, Caleb said he knew the older lady would be getting power back soon, and that made it worth it.  
 
Both AJ and Caleb agreed the days were long, some conditions were not ideal and they were missing home, but the response and support from the community kept them motivated to get the power restored as quickly as possible. All of the linemen spoke highly of the Venus United Methodist Church where a group of ladies not only fed them good home-cooked meals, in addition to taking care of their wider community.
 
“We are proud of them, but not surprised. We have great linemen with big hearts and a great work ethic. They truly care about what they do,” said Vice President of Operations Donny Fugate.
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