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Convoy of utility trucks, line workers headed to South Carolina

September 11, 2017 - Tropical Storm Irma’s winds and rain caused the loss of power to nearly 100,000 electric cooperative consumers Monday. Cooperatives provide electricity in all 46 counties, but the highest numbers of consumers without power were between the Savannah River and a line extending from Spartanburg to Columbia to Charleston.

More than 100 Arkansas line workers formed a convoy Monday as they departed nine electric cooperatives headed to South Carolina to help repair Hurricane Irma’s damage. They will join at least 200 more from other states who will be traveling early Tuesday. Crews will arrive in the damaged areas from North Carolina and Virginia on Tuesday.

As the storm passes through the state late Monday, electric cooperatives in eastern South Carolina also will assess whether they will be able to release crews and equipment to move west for cooperatives facing the biggest damage.

Rain and wind, especially wind gusts, caused the most power system damage.

“Even as the storm was hitting Florida, the potential damage to South Carolina was a moving target,” said Todd Carter, who coordinates in-state and out-of-state support from across the nation. Carter, who uses three computer monitors and two telephones to track his arrangements, manages the shifting requests for assistance from South Carolina cooperatives and tries to match them with the shifting availability of crews and equipment from other states.

Both construction and service repair crews are used in storm repair. A construction crew, which replaces poles and conductors (wire), usually consists of a line truck, bucket truck and five workers including crew foreman, equipment operator, two first class linemen and a ground worker. Other repair crews may consist of a bucket truck and two men to repair fallen conductors, remove trees from lines, and do service work on wires and transformers going to a house. 

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