Missouri linemen headed south Tuesday morning to help with electricity restoration in Florida where Hurricane Irma just cut a destructive swath over the state.

According to the Missouri Electric Co-ops Facebook page, rural cooperatives around the state are sending 154 linemen from 26 systems to assist in getting electricity back on for Floridians.

Linemen from the Intercounty Electric Cooperative Association (IECA) are among those from the Missouri area who are sending workers to help. IECA Communications Specialist Heather Satterfield said they sent six of their linemen on Tuesday morning, and are prepared to send more in the near future.

“When we send a crew, we usually allow them to be there for up to two weeks,” she explained. Satterfield added if the crew sees more work to be done, they will rotate out with another group of linemen that are already prepared to travel to Florida to give their assistance.

Once the linemen arrive, they will address needs as they see them, working with the local electrical co-ops as they are assigned different responsibilities.

“When they go down there…we expect them to be doing some cleanup,” said Satterfield. “There’s a lot of cleanup to be done before you can place a pole and charge a line.”

Earlier Missouri crews were committed to two cooperatives in South Carolina, Berkeley and Palmetto electric cooperatives. However, Irma’s westward shift focused the pre-storm preparation to Georgia and Florida, where millions of people are now without electricity.

Missouri took part in daily conference calls among electric cooperatives that were expected to need help and those that should be out of harm’s way. Offers of assistance came from electric cooperatives as far away as New Hampshire, Vermont and South Dakota.

Most of the Missouri electric cooperatives will be sending a digger-derrick truck and a bucket truck to be prepared for anything they may find. A fuel tanker truck from Central Electric Power Cooperative, in Jefferson City, will accompany the group headed to Florida to avoid potential shortages en route.

Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois were among utility companies that sent crews to the affected region ahead of Hurricane Irma’s landfall. According to Ameren Missouri Facebook page, 125 workers left for Orlando on Sept. 8 at the request of Duke Energy. Over the weekend, these crews were returned to home operating centers, but were redeployed Monday morning to start assisting with restoration efforts.

Missouri’s electric cooperatives are no strangers to helping out in the hurricane zones. Show-Me State linemen worked their first hurricane in 2004, when Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast. In the years that followed, Missouri crews, out of harm’s way, have become a common sight wherever the hurricane zone happened to be. Electric co-ops in Louisiana and Mississippi have returned the favor, helping Missouri electric cooperatives restore power after the ice storms of 2007 and 2009.

Relief crews are coordinated by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, the statewide service organization for the state’s electric cooperatives. Its emergency assistance program began in 1948.

Those electric co-ops sending crews include:
Barton County Electric Cooperative, Inc., Lamar; 
Black River Electric Cooperative, Fredericktown; 
Boone Electric Cooperative, Columbia; 
Callaway Electric Cooperative, Fulton; 
Citizens Electric Corp., Perryville; 
Co-Mo Electric Cooperative, Tipton; 
Consolidated Electric Cooperative - Missouri, Mexico; 
Crawford Electric Cooperative, Bourbon; 
Cuivre River Electric Cooperative, Inc., Troy; 
Gascosage Electric Cooperative, Dixon; 
Grundy Electric Cooperative, Inc., Trenton; 
Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative, Inc., West Plains; 
Intercounty Electric Cooperative Association, Rolla; Licking
Laclede Electric Cooperative, Lebanon; 
Macon Electric Cooperative, Macon; 
Osage Valley Electric Cooperative, Butler; 
Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Kearney; 
Ralls County Electric Cooperative, New London; 
Sac Osage Electric Cooperative, El Dorado Springs;
SEMO Electric Cooperative, Sikeston; 
Southwest Electric Cooperative, Bolivar; 
Tri-County Electric Cooperative MO, Lancaster; 
United Electric Cooperative, Inc., Maryville; 
Webster Electric Cooperative, Marshfield;
North Central Electric Cooperative, Milan;
West Central Electric Cooperative, Higginsville.