Rural Missouri Magazine

Power and hope restored

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

Long before the full extent of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe became clear, the call for help came in to the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. With more than 600,000 members in the dark and hardly a meter turning at systems all over Mississippi, electric cooperatives there desperately needed our help.

By Monday afternoon, just hours after the epic storm came ashore, electric co-op linemen from all across the Show-Me State were heading south. Within a week hundreds of Missouri linemen would join the relief effort. They joined more than 9,000 linemen from across the United States who helped restore power.

They would face appalling conditions. Food and drink were scarce. Motels provided a bed, but no running water and no electricity. Some men slept in their trucks in an effort to beat the oppressive heat. Others sacked out on office floors before heading out for another long day.

Their accomplishments in getting those tangled lines and broken poles repaired is the stuff of legends.

October is National Cooperative Month and Missouri’s response to the disaster is a great example of the benefits of the cooperative movement. One of the basic tenets under which cooperatives operate is cooperation among cooperatives. The disaster caused cooperatives across the country to drop everything and assist the hurricane victims.

One young lineman from Farmers’ Electric told the story at his local church. Church members there, also co-op members, passed the hat and raised $1,000 for relief efforts.

Black River Electric repaired an old refrigerated truck in time to send a load of ice to the effort. The co-op later became the focal point for a massive collection of goods requested by volunteers at Wesley College in Mississippi and donated by caring people in the Frederick-town area. Citizens Electric collected bottled water, Ozark Border sent line-repair materials and M&A Power hauled two loads of fuel that kept trucks operating when local supplies ran out. To date, more than $8,000 has been donated by Missouri electric co-op employees to help their counterparts rebuild.

These are just a few of the stories we’ve heard of electric cooperative neighbors helping neighbors. Since the rebuilding efforts and the desperate needs of the victims will continue for many months or years, the electric co-ops of Missouri will continue to help.

When future calls for assistance come, we will help in any way we can with the rebuilding effort.

By coming to the aid of those weary Mississippi and Louisiana co-ops, Missouri and the other states that offered assistance ensured there will be help when we find ourselves in the hot seat.

When disaster strikes Missouri’s electric cooperatives have a plan in place that gets the power back on as soon as possible. The plan has been tested and refined many times.
As the lights began to come back on those in the disaster area realized more than just the power was restored. Hope was too.

We have set up a fund to help electric co-op employees and their families, who were also devastated by Katrina. If you would like to contribute, send checks made out to “Katrina Relief Fund” to Katrina Fund, c/o Nancy Dunwiddie, P.O. Box 1645, Jefferson City, MO 65102 and we will make sure the employees receive your donation.

Additional funds have been set up to help both states. For a list, go to By continuing to help our friends to the south, even after the TV cameras have left Mississippi and Louisiana, we can all contribute to keeping hope alive.

Hart is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

See photos and read more about the Hurricane Katrina relief effort at AMEC.COOP

E-mail Barry Hart


Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102

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