After two years back-to-back calling on the aid of our neighboring cooperatives, Louisiana electric cooperatives are sending mutual aid to assist Florida’s recovery from the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. The Category 4 storm made landfall Wednesday in southwest Florida near Fort Myers as one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S. It is still too early to know the significance of the destruction the 155+mph winds caused in central Florida.
Following the principle of Cooperation Among Cooperatives, six electric distribution cooperatives in Louisiana are enroute to Florida, where they will assist with restoration efforts in the coming weeks.
Louisiana co-ops are working under the nationwide mutual aid agreement with the coordination of the Florida Electric Cooperative Association. They have been assigned to assist sister cooperative Peace River Electric Cooperative, Inc. (PRECO) in Wauchula. PRECO serves over 50,000 homes and businesses in the following counties: Brevard, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Manatee, Osceola, Polk, and Sarasota.
“Given the magnitude of damage, the restoration period could take multiple weeks,” said Aarron Graham, safety and loss control director for the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives. “Depending on how long PRECO needs Louisiana crews, we may start rotating crews in weeks to come.”
“It’s our turn to help our neighbors,” said ALEC CEO Addie Armato, who knows too well what it means to see those mutual aid crews roll into a damaged service territory as Louisiana continues to recover from severe hurricane seasons that wreaked havoc on Louisiana electric systems in 2020 and 2021.
The following Louisiana electric cooperatives are sending crews to PRECO:
- Beauregard Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BECi)
- Claiborne Electric Cooperative, Inc.
- Northeast Louisiana Power Cooperative, Inc. (NELPCO)
- South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association (SLECA)
- Washington St. Tammany Electric Cooperative, Inc. (WSTE)
“Safety is our number one priority, so everyone can return home to their loved ones safe and sound. We ask for prayers over all crews and essential workers as they travel to PRECO and perform their duties and for those in Hurricane Ian’s path,” said Armato.