Story by NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ
Video by BRIAN ELLEDGE | CoServ
Photos by KEN OLTMANN | CoServ
Editor's note: This article will be updated as we receive new information from our crews in Florida. Check back for updates.
Updated on October 10, 2022
CoServ's linemen crews will be heading back to Texas Tuesday morning after spending the past 10 days providing mutual aid to two Florida cooperatives that were affected by Hurricane Ian. They have spent the last several days in Fort Myers, Florida, one of the hardest hit areas. The drive back is expected to take two days.
The linemen replaced broken poles and transformers and put up new primary and secondary wires. Most of the work was done in backlot easements in residential areas.
Last week they restored power to 80 homes and 15 businesses, including a Walgreens and a local bank.
Please have our crews in your thoughts and prayers for a safe return.
Updated on October 5, 2022
The Peace River Electric Cooperative expects to reach 100 percent restoration by the end of the day today. PRECO released all the Texas co-ops that came to assist, including CoServ. CoServ crews are heading south to assist Lee County Electric Cooperative in Fort Myers, Florida.
Lee County still has 55 percent of their members without power as of 6 a.m. Wednesday. The co-op has 222,242 meters. Two of their areas, Pine Island and Sanibel, have no power right now because of the damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
Updated on October 3, 2022
CoServ linemen crews started changing broken poles and were able to energize a 12-mile section of feeder line that was assigned to them in Ona, Florida Saturday. They are providing mutual aid to the Peace River Electric Cooperative. They were in the same area working on Sunday.
They are doing well.
Updated on October 1, 2022
The convoy of CoServ trucks arrived in Wauchula, Florida about 6 p.m. Friday, 11 hours after they departed Escambia Cooperative, where they spent Thursday night. On Saturday, they woke up early ready to start reparing the storm-damaged electric infrastructure at Peace River Electric Cooperative in south central Florida.
According to PRECO's Twitter account, almost 600 workers from 34 electric cooperatives across the eight states are joining the monument effort to help PRECO restore power.
A few last second hugs with family members, a prayer and a quick safety talk. Bags are packed. Equipment and supplies are stowed away.
A CoServ lineman held his toddler one more time.
And then the convoy of bucket trucks and other vehicles drove out of the truck shed at CoServ headquarters toward the interstate, the first step in the 1,200-mile journey to south central Florida.
In all, CoServ sent two crews of linemen and a mechanic to provide mutual aid to Peace River Electric Cooperative (PRECO), which was hit hard by Hurricane Ian this week.
The crews are scheduled to be there for about two weeks helping to restore power to PRECO members. The National Rural Electric Cooperative estimates 49,000 of PRECO’s 55,000 members are without power in the wake of the hurricane.
CoServ crews will face flooded roads, fallen trees and other storm debris, as well as broken utility poles and downed power lines.
“Much of what took us 82 years to build took Ian less than 24 hours to destroy,” said Van Crawford, PRECO’s vice President of Operations said in a press release. “With catastrophic winds and significant flooding Hurricane Ian is one of the worst storms to hit this area of Florida. The recovery and rebuilding efforts will be a lengthy and complicated process.”
PRECO’s own headquarters lost power during the storm and is running on a back-up generator.
CoServ crews join other electric cooperatives from throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia who have responded to the disaster in Florida, the NRECA reported.
CoServ received the request for mutual aid on Monday evening, days before the storm made landfall in Florida. By the next morning, CoServ had 17 Employees ready to volunteer.
“It’s cooperatives helping cooperatives. Anytime there’s a storm, they could help us just as much as we’re coming helping them. If we had a tornado that rolled through here and tore down a lot of our system, that’s what cooperatives do, they help one another,” said Cody Coulter, CoServ’s Director of Operations. “This is something that CoServ does every time we get the call from [Texas Electric Cooperative] to render mutual aid, it’s something that we love to do. We’ve got servant’s hearts and we try to help anywhere we can.”
As of Thursday, Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to emerge over the western Atlantic where it could intensify again to a Category 1 storm while posing a threat to northeastern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
A CoServ bucket truck makes the trek south toward south central Florida Friday proudly representing the Texas and American flags.
A convoy of CoServ trucks arrived in Wauchula, Florida as the sun set Friday evening. They got to work Saturday morning.
CoServ crews work in swampy, wet conditions in Ona, Florida to restore power to the Peace River Electric Cooperative.
CoServ's linemen crews will be heading back to Texas Tuesday morning after spending the past 10 days providing mutual aid to two Florida cooperatives that were affected by Hurricane Ian.