DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Wiregrass Electric Cooperative maintains around 24,000 meters and serves around 17,000 members and as hurricane season approaches, those on the front lines have started to prepare.
“If it’s going to hit in Geneva county, we’ll try to get some materials and everything staged up there or Houston county,” said Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Journeyman Lineman Britt Caldwell. “We try to be ready and watch and see where it’s going to hit and have our stuff lined up and ready.”
For crew members, hurricane season marks one of, if not the, busiest seasons of the year.
“We’re on call 24/7,” Caldwell said. “There’s never a day or a time that we don’t work when the power goes out. If the power goes out, we’re going to come get it on.”
On the management front, communication remains a top priority.
“We call it our Emergency Response Plan, or ERP,” said Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro. “Essentially, it talks about all aspects of our business.”
Communication with employees, members, and customers keeps residents informed on where crews are and what they are doing.
“We want to be straightforward and forthright always,” Kimbro said. “If we think it’s going to be seven days before your area is going to be restored after a major storm, we’re going to tell you that.”
While being without power can be extremely frustrating, Wiregrass Electric Crew members say it’s important to remember crews are working even when you can’t see them.
“They don’t see us at night,” Caldwell said. “They don’t get the phone calls that we get at one o’clock or three o’clock in the morning.”
Despite this, linemen said customers’ reactions are part of what makes the grueling job worthwhile.
“You see people going a couple of days without power, when you get their power on, there’s always a smile on that face,” Caldwell said. “It can be aggravating and challenging at times, but it’s also rewarding.”
For more hurricane preparedness information, watch WDHN’s “The New Season: Hurricane Ready” each night during WDHN News at Six.