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Tennessee co-ops recover from tornado damage

Crews from Tennessee’s electric co-ops worked through the weekend after a line of severe storms, some producing long-track tornadoes, moved through Tennessee Friday evening and Saturday morning. Initially more than 20,000 co-op consumers were affected by outages, but crews have reduced than number down to fewer than 4,000.

Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, which provides power to particularly hard hit areas of northwest Tennessee and southwest Kentucky, continues to restore power to those impacted. They are being assisted by crews from neighboring co-ops including Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, Pickwick Electric Cooperative, Forked Deer Electric Cooperative and Chickasaw Electric Cooperative; neighboring municipal systems including Jackson Energy Authority and Milan Department of Public Utilities; and several contract crews from Service Electric.

“The tornadoes left broken poles on every road they crossed from the Mississippi River to the eastern boundary of our service area,” said Barry Smith, Vice President of Engineering and Operations for Gibson Electric Membership Corporation. “The damage amounts to hundreds of broken poles.”

“Even with all of Gibson EMC’s lineworkers and lineworkers from neighboring utilities, repairing the monumental damage is a painfully slow process,” said Dan Rodamaker, President and CEO of Gibson Electric Membership Corporation and Gibson Connect, the co-op’s broadband subsidiary. “We know how very difficult a lengthy outage is for our members and we are pushing hard to restore electric and internet service as quickly as we safely can.”

Restoration to all homes able to receive power may take several more days.

“The images coming out of northwest Tennessee and southwest Kentucky are truly remarkable,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Tennessee’s electric co-ops, municipal power providers and contractors are working together to restore power as quickly as possible to those communities. Even in the face of tragedy, it is encouraging to see how many rush to provide assistance when neighbors need help.”

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