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Electric co-op crews stand by for Irma's almost certain damage

September 10, 2017:

A week’s worth of emergency preparations begin to take shape tonight as South Carolina electric cooperatives in Hurricane Irma’s wake stand by for her damage. The shifting direction of the hurricane left repair crew planning in a state of flux, though active, until its path became clear.

Emergency planners for electric cooperatives expect more than 300 line workers and equipment to arrive in the next two to three days, and more may be sent if needed. Rain and wind, especially wind gusts, will cause power system damage Monday along the South Carolina coast and inland where wind, rain and trees falling on lines are most severe.

The first wave of assistance will come from these states:

Arkansas.  Line workers, line trucks and bucket trucks will depart nine electric cooperatives on Monday morning for the trek to the Palmetto State.

Virginia.  Crews and equipment depart from as many as eight electric cooperatives on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

North Carolina. Cooperatives in the Tar Heel State will conduct an assessment of their own damage, if any, on Tuesday morning and will send crews and equipment as available.

Utilities in neighboring states cannot commit to help South Carolina until they are certain the workers are not needed in their home area.

Both construction and service repair crews will be sent. 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.

“We’ll do an assessment on damage in South Carolina on Tuesday morning,” said Todd Carter, whose department coordinates assistance for the state’s electric cooperatives. “Virginia and West Virginia may have more help available, and cooperatives in eastern South Carolina may be able to shift workers to the west.”

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1.3 million South Carolinians want to know

South Carolina news media can follow the impact of Hurricane Irma on the more than 1.3 million South Carolinians who use power from electric cooperatives in all 46 counties.

Online:  At, an Outage Map provides up-to-date outage estimates by county and by service area. Find local media contacts at

Online: South Carolina Living magazine’s Storm Center page at contains useful advice for consumers that may enhance your coverage. Topics include how to stay safe around downed power lines, how to safely use a backup generator, how power is restored, tips for keeping refrigerated and frozen food safe during power outages and numbers to report power outages and downed equipment.

Twitter:  @SCcooperatives brings together more than 135,000 lovers of the Palmetto State and carries their experiences when the state faces an emergency.

The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. is the state association of electric cooperatives. More than 1.3 million South Carolinians in all 46 counties use power provided by 20 independent, member-owned electric co-ops.  Together, the co-ops operate the state’s largest electric power system with 75,000 miles of power lines across 70 percent of the state.

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