Electric cooperatives in Kentucky are working together to help communities facing widespread damage from devastating floods.
State officials have reported 37 deaths, and thousands of homes have been heavily damaged or destroyed. Power restoration efforts continue in the southeastern part of the state.
“Kentucky co-op employees, relatives and board members have been affected by the disaster,” said Joe Arnold, vice president of strategic communications for Kentucky’s Electric Cooperatives. “Co-ops from across Kentucky and the country have inquired of how and where to help.”
The statewide association has activated its Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund to help co-op employees in need of immediate assistance, and several of the state’s distribution co-ops are collecting cleaning supplies, clothing, food and other essentials to help residents of flood-ravaged communities.
“Together, we can make a difference in the lives of our neighbors that have been devastated with the flooding in our area,” Paintsville-based Big Sandy Rural Electric Cooperative Corp. said on its Facebook page. “No gift is too small.”
Officials from McKee-based Jackson Energy are collecting cleaning supplies and personal care products and distributing them through community agencies in Kentucky’s Clay County.
“It was humbling to see just a glimpse of the damage to the roads that are still impassible, homes that are destroyed and the daily livelihoods that will never be the same,” said Lisa Baker, a Jackson Energy administrative assistant. “The care and concern shown through the donations and people wanting to help was immeasurable.”
Co-ops are also encouraging donations of camping equipment, including tents and cots.
“In many of the hardest-hit areas, recovery is expected to take a long time,” said Arnold.
For many co-op employees with relatives in flood-ravaged areas, the relief effort is personal.
“Our membership and our cooperative family are a blessing,” said Robin Blevins, a supervisor at South Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corp.’s call center. “We are just so thankful for everybody.”
Derrill Holly is a staff writer for NRECA.