Winter has finally arrived, dumping up to 7 inches of snow in some areas last week and a slick layer of ice just days ago.
The snow may be fluffy and make for some fun winter play, and the ice may cover the ground with a sparkly shine, but they also cause power outages and dangerous roadways.
The snow storm, Jan. 24-25, proved to be the most destructive, leaving more than 18,000 people without power at the peak of the outages.
Black River Electric Cooperative had crews working around the clock, trying to fix the lines. The cooperative even called in extra help from some other cooperatives.
“The cooperative’s statewide mutual assistance program was a blessing as we received linemen from other cooperatives to help our crews with restoration efforts,” BREC General Manager John Singleton said. “The dedication of our employees has been amazing. They go all-in to get the power flowing back into the members’ homes, regardless of the weather conditions or time of day or night.”
Some remained without power until Saturday, making for almost 4 days in the dark. This may sound bad, but it could have been worse. Early predictions had some without power throughout the weekend. This was when the power of being a part of a cooperative really paid off.
BREC crews were joined by more than 40 Linemen from Boone Electric Cooperative, Cuivre River Electric Cooperative, SEMO Electric Cooperative, Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative, Gascosage Electric Cooperative, Ralls County Electric Cooperative and Consolidated Electric Cooperative. BREC also brought in extra ROW/tree trimming crews to help.
“Thank you, BREC members, for your patience and understanding during this historic event,” BREC Communication Specialist Heather Dietiker said. “This winter storm has impacted more members than any other storm in BREC’s 85 year history.”
Dietiker said, BREC understands this was frustrating for everyone, and the cooperative worked hard to restore power as quickly as possible.
Hopefully, any future winter weather will only be filled with snowmen, sledding, and hot cocoa, but if things go dark yet again, BREC has offered several winter storm safety reminders.
“In a winter storm emergency, restoring power and heat to consumers is the highest priority, and electric utility crews work around the clock to restore service,” Dietiker said. “Even so, it can take days to repair the devastating damage of a winter storm. If you are in the midst of storm recovery, avoid going outside if possible. Downed power lines could be submerged in snow and ice and difficult to identify.”
Dietiker said, when outside, treat all downed and hanging lines as if they are energized electric lines: stay away, warn others to stay away and immediately contact your utility company. As a reminder, remember that downed power lines do not have to be arcing, sparking or moving to be live and deadly.
If a power outage is due to a meter base, mast, conduit or other electrical service entrance equipment being damaged or torn off your house, you will need to have an electrician repair that equipment before power can be restored to your location. Call and speak with the BREC Service Department if you have questions about this.
During outages members can view up to date information at the BREC Storm Center, located at https://brec.coop/storm-center