Hurricane Florence: Ga. EMCs prepared to send 150 workers for relief

An evacuation route sign on Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach.

An evacuation route sign on Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach.

If Georgia is not impacted by Hurricane Florence, electric cooperatives in the state are planning to send about 150 line workers to South Carolina to help restore power and assist in other needs.

Terri Statham, a spokesperson for the Georgia EMC, said that the number of EMCs and personnel from Georgia lending help could increase depending on the severity of the hurricane and the extent of damage in affected areas.

Georgia doesn’t currently appear to be in the massive storm’s path. Based on current weather forecasts, Statham said, crews will likely be on their way Saturday morning.

The Georgia EMC participated in several conference calls Tuesday with electric cooperative associations in several states, including Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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Statham said that because of the proximity of the states, crews from Georgia will initially head to South Carolina. After those needs are met, crews will move up to North Carolina and Virginia, if needed.

The Georgia EMC is a trade association, so the association itself won’t be sending crews, but the individual EMCs across the state will be sending equipment and manpower. The Georgia EMC acts a coordinator and central point of contact in the state for these operations. It represents 41 EMCs across Georgia.

For example, Savannah Chandler, a spokesperson for the Walton EMC based in Monroe, said the cooperative is planning to send crews to affected areas and is in contact with the Georgia EMC about what it will need to send.

“One big advantage that cooperatives have is that all of us use the same line construction standards,” Chandler said. “So, no matter where our linemen go, they're already familiar with how the lines need to be repaired and the materials they'll use.”

If relief efforts stretch beyond a week, then crews will rotate so no one works more than a week at a time, Chandler said. Trucks will stay at the site and crews will shuttle back and forth in vans.

Hurricane Florence has been upgraded to a Category 4 storm. Channel 2 Action News says it could be the most catastrophic storm to hit North Carolina in decades. The state, along with South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, has declared a state of emergency.

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Channel 2's Nicole Carr is heading to South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Florida