The Alabama electric cooperative that serves communities hardest hit by deadly storms wrapped up major power restoration work on March 6—but with funerals continuing and rebuilding ahead, recovery is just beginning.
“We’ve gotten calls and emails from electric co-ops across the nation, and we really appreciate the prayers and concern,” said Louie Ward, general manager of Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative.
The Lafayette-based distribution co-op restored service to its members who could safely receive power three days after two tornadoes touched down and straight-line winds strafed portions of Alabama’s Lee County.
“We had about 900 members without power at the peak,” Ward said Wednesday.
Throughout damage assessment and restoration, Ward worked in the field with co-op crews and contractors, pitching in to assist.
“I’ve been delivering food to the crews, pulling wire, pulling meters from destroyed homes and helping to fill pole holes with dirt,” Ward said. “It’s been grunt work, but I’m doing anything I can.”
Damage to the co-op’s system was primarily in six areas where National Weather Service meteorologists reported that tornadoes touched down or the strongest winds occurred. At least 100 poles have been replaced since March 3.
Tallapoosa River EC serves about 26,000 meters. Severely damaged homes could require code inspections and work by licensed electricians before power can be restored.
The storms left at least 23 people dead. Co-op employees and their families did not lose homes or suffer serious injuries as a result of the storms, said Ward. “The co-op’s directors and several members of the staff have worked with area churches since the storm occurred to assist victims.”
Derrill Holly is a staff writer at NRECA.