Reflections Summer Issue | Volume 17, Number 3 - Page 44

PEOPLE and PLACES hese guys are not just climbing

“ Tpoles and trimming trees off power lines ,” James Thomas , Director of Training and Safety adds . “ They have to watch out for poisonous snakes and spiders , be aware of impending heat stroke and generally be prepared for just about anything when they ’ re on the job .”

When I asked about the wildly fast restoration times , not just in the height of a named storm , but on the daily basis , Bethany ’ s answer to the question was in the form of an analogy . “ We are the original farm-totable electric company ,” she says . “ Basically , our crews know their territories well , and since they ’ re not being pulled all over Georgia , their focus is on you .” She also explains that their system is engineered strong and during an outage , power can be redirected to a specific community to get the lights on quickly . Then , the crews can go out later and take their time repairing the problem , and the customer is happy because they are out of the dark and the heat !
19-year veteran employee , Clint Durrence , has gone from a lineman ' s position to a line supervisor , working through many storms all over the country , including the 2020 Category 4 Hurricane Laura in Louisiana . While reminiscing Hurricane Matthew in 2016 with me , Clint recalls

“ This community is really amazing . While I was helping to get power restored , they took care of me and my family .” — CLINT DURRENCE

that he and a few other linemen stayed together at his house waiting for the storm to approach , eventually moving over to the Coastal Electric headquarters in Richmond Hill , so they could be ready to head out as soon as the storm passed by . “ Some of it is a mental game , just being prepared for the unknown and keeping people safe – that takes a lot out of you . And then there ’ s the physical work .” Clint was able to get back to check on his own house just briefly and was shocked to find downed trees all over his property . Of course , he couldn ' t stop to focus on that , and he returned to work . I saw that time and again with my brother-in-law . He could be gone for days before having time to assess his own situation . These guys put themselves behind those they serve . A few days later , when Clint was able to get home again for some much needed sleep , he was overwhelmed to see his neighbors had cleared all the trees . “ This community is really amazing . While I was helping to get power restored , they took care of me and my family .”
I put the team on the spot and asked what their average turnaround time is for power restoration in any situation . There was a little hesitation making such a bold claim , but Vice President Mark Bolton put it well . “ If you follow our Facebook posts , you ’ ll find that most of our outages are restored in one hour , sometimes faster . I believe it ’ s those quick return times that have earned Coastal the reputation of being always on .” He proudly adds that following Matthew , a few communities never even lost power , and says that during the last two storms , more than half of their customers were restored within 24 hours . For this Florida girl , that is impressive information – because going three weeks without power is not for the faint at heart !
As the Atlantic waters warm and the seas become more active this summer , the team at Coastal Electric Cooperative will be training and preparing for any and all possibilities of power interruption . And it ’ s not just hurricanes to worry about , afternoon thunderstorms and windy squalls are lining up and often put the linemen to work . Let us remember to be thankful for their hard and dangerous work that allows us to be cool and safe inside our homes . •
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