North Carolina's Touchstone Energy cooperatives sent line crews to Mississippi this week to assist with power outages caused by Hurricane Katrina. Katrina, a category four hurricane when it reached landfall, caused widespread power outages in Mississippi and other Gulf states.
North Carolina electric co-ops sent more than 200 line technicians from 13 N.C. co-op systems to assist three Mississippi electric cooperatives with power restoration efforts. Those co-ops include Coast Electric Power Association (Bay St. Louis, Mississippi), Southern Pine Electric Power Association (Taylorsville, Mississippi) and Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association (Columbia, Mississippi). This is not the first time in 2005 the NC's electric cooperatives have been deployed to assist cooperatives in other states. More than 185 line technicians were sent to Alabama in July to help with power restoration after Hurricane Dennis.
The deployment of help is part of a mutual aid agreement shared between the nation's nearly 1000 electric cooperatives to help one another in times of emergency, such as natural disasters.
"Our heart goes out to the people of the Gulf states during this difficult time," said Nelle Hotchkiss, on behalf of North Carolina's electric cooperatives. "Because the track of the storm did not present a significant threat to North Carolina, we were able to lend assistance to our sister cooperatives in their time of need. We know they would do the same for us. It's the cooperative way."
Since most electric cooperatives use the same engineering and design of line systems, cooperative line crews from varying states are almost interchangeable.
After North Carolina communities suffered damage from a string of hurricanes over the past few years, linemen from Florida, Georgia and many other states have rushed in to help.
North Carolina's 27 independent electric cooperatives serve approximately 2.5 million people in 93 of the state's 100 counties.